Where She Went by Gayle Forman

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Title: Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★★

Summary: 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 Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last 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 each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

This review is part book blog and part creative non fiction essay. Fair warning.

Where She Went brought me right back into the sadness and longing for my own lost love – which just so happens to have ended three years ago. The timing of my reading this book is not lost on me.

I’m not going to pretend my story is anything like Mia and Adam’s. The devastating losses they both went through in the pages of If I Stay are losses I can’t even imagine. The subsequent grief, need for space, and confusion are so well written, however, that I can put myself into those shoes.

Unlike the first novel, Where She Went offers a story in Adam’s perspective. It’s a voice we haven’t heard before; but it’s so welcomed. Adam hits right on the head what it means to miss someone. What it means to sit in a daze for days on end and wonder what went wrong. Why did she leave? What could I have done differently?

He also acknowledges that it’s enough that she’s alive. Because knowing that other person exists is more important than anything else.

I can get on board with that.

Granted, three years ago my relationship ended because it needed to. We weren’t mourning any losses. We’d just hit a point where space and time were the only things that could heal. And I’m not entirely done healing. There’s still a lot of anger and hope and restlessness and sadness that need to be aired out.

I’d give anything for a night in New York like Mia and Adam have to be honest and open and raw about my feelings one more time. For him to listen.

Yet knowing he exists in the world around me can sometimes be enough.

“I’m still standing. I’m still breathing. And somehow, I’m okay” -Chapter 18.

There’s so much about this novel to love. Forman seamlessly infuses music and lyrics into the narrative in a way that I only wish I could as an aspiring author. I need Collateral Damage and Prepare for Landing to be actual albums. For now though I’ll just settle for the lyrics and an author playlist.

The time gap between If I Stay and Where She Went is crucial, I think, to this story. The time it allowed Adam and Mia to grow (in stardom and in life) made it all that much sweeter when they’re pushed back together. It was real. Not all relationships get a second chance, but a lot of people mourn firsts loves for a very long time. I was appreciative of Adam being allowed that so unapologetically.

Where She Went is hard. There’s a lot of angst and confusion (and love) wrapped into one night of healing and remembering. All you can do is let it sweep you in.

My heart is filled with hope at the end of this novel. Anything is possible. I think I needed the reminder.

love is pain

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