Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

11736995The Cover: This cover is just as classic and beautiful as the first. I love it because it really brings the image of the story into my head, just like the first one did. The model looks exactly how I would picture Mia from Adam’s perspective. She looks almost ethereal, like she is part of a dream and Adam doesn’t believe that she’s real. She looks stronger and braver than when we first saw her on the cover of If I Stay.

Back Blurb: It’s been three years since the devastating accident…three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is a rising star at Juilliard and Adam is a bona fide rock star, complete with tabloid headlines and a celebrity girlfriend.

Then chance brings them together again, for one night.

As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future–-and to each other.

The Book: After thoroughly enjoying Mia’s narrative in the first novel of the series, If I Stay, I was disappointed to find out that Where She Went was not written from Mia’s perspective, but from Adam’s. It’s not that Adam wasn’t a likable character, it’s just that I’m a little sexist when it comes to YA. I’m a girl, so naturally, I like reading stories about girls. I don’t really have much of a desire to read from a guy’s perspective unless it’s a character for whom I feel a deep connection. Sure, I liked Adam, but I didn’t fall for him like I have other love interests. Apparently, Gayle Forman can make you fall in love with anybody, because this book made me love Adam possibly even more than I love Mia.

Where She Went is similar to its predecessor in the fact that it’s told in an alternating past and present narrative, but the theme of this book is completely different. If I Stay was about life or death and making choices, and Where She Went is an agonizing story of unrequited love.

Mia didn’t die in the accident, but Adam still lost her. After waking up from her coma, Mia received her acceptance letter to Juilliard. There had never been a question to as whether she would go, so she went. She and Adam did the long-distance thing for a while, then she suddenly broke up with him. She completely cut things off. The worst part was that she gave no explanation. Adam was basically catatonic with grief for months, dropping out of the band and moving back in with his parents. He watched from afar as Mia became a famous cellist. He eventually tried healing himself through writing songs, which ultimately led to the launch of Shooting Star’s career. Adam himself became famous, traveled the world, and started dating a celebrity. It sounds like the dream of every fourteen-year-old boy with a guitar pick, but Adam wasn’t happy. Having never found closure from losing Mia, he spiraled into a deep depression that he tried to mend with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. When he unexpectedly stumbles upon one of Mia’s performances, his life turns upside down.

Adam spends a night running around New York City with Mia. The two begin to reconnect as Adam relives the horror of the accident and his pain from the last three years. He recounts the fear, the rejection, and the overall feeling of despair that took over when Mia left him. He looks at things for how they are now, how they’ve changed, and the completely different lives they both lead. But the anger is still there, and he desperately wants to know why Mia did what she did. Was it because she heard him, because of the promise he made? Or because of something he did wrong later? Adam needs these answers so he can find closure, so he can make peace with what has happened and move on.

But Mia isn’t quite ready to relive her pain. How can she? The girl suffered horrific injuries and lost her entire family in a tragic car accident. How can anyone who’s never experienced that truly understand it? You would think, since Mia’s life was torn apart, that she would cling on to the one person she loved more than anything, the one that helped her rebuild her life. But she didn’t, and when Adam finally understands why, it is both painful and beautiful at the same time.

I warned you about the first book, so I’ll warn you about the second: If I Stay was a tear-jerker, but Where She Went violently punches you in the gut. It leaves you reeling on the floor to wallow in your own tears, while your cat struggles to claw out of your heartbreak-induced grip. This story is vivid with expressions of angst and raw emotion. Horrible, painful emotions like fear and loss. It really makes you think, making you physically feel the pain that Adam is going through. It answers questions, and then it asks questions that you never consider until it’s too late. It’s romantic, passionate, and sad, a beautiful tale of unrequited love. And thankfully, it provides the closure that both the characters and their readers needed from If I Stay. I hope for the sake of my love for Adam and Mia that the story ends here, because the ending was absolutely perfect. If you read the first book, you definitely won’t want to miss this one. Gayle Forman is a very talented writer, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her books (but I will buy a new box of tissues and a bottle of wine first).

Did Where She Went make you cry? Sound off in the comments below!

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