Where She Went by Gayle Forman | Rating: ★★★★★
“It would’ve been easier to die. It’s not that I want to be dead now. I don’t. I have a lot in my life that I get satisfaction from, that I love. But some days, especially in the beginning, it was so hard. And I couldn’t help but think that it would’ve been so much simpler to go with the rest of them. But you—you asked me to stay. You begged me to stay. You stood over me and you made a promise to me, as sacred as any vow.”
Sequels can be often difficult to garner attention. It’s no easy task attempting to keep the magic of previous installments and allow the appropriate amount of growth in characters to make the story realistic as it can be. Gayle Forman, naturally, does so gracefully in the sequel to her bestselling and beloved novel If I Stay.
Whiles If I Stay focuses on the thin life between life and and deathand the loss of nearly your entire world; Where She Went focuses more on the aftermath of those it touched as well as discovering how to live in a world of grief. It reminds us all that life goes on and that thought tragedy strikes you down, it isn’t impossible to move forward. Mia has to discover herself again; relearn many things and figure out how to live again.
Mia and Adam’s stories are continued beautifully as we skip forward a few years that show the two went along vastly different paths in life. Both, though different in genre, have received recognition for their talents in music — certainly something to be expected.
Both lead separate lives and have grown tremendously in the years that have passed. Sadly, neither have been in contact since Mia’s breakup; since their paths went in directions that couldn’t possibly survive a relationship at each given moment. Mia and Adam both have struggled in their grief — grief for the loss of Mia’s family; for the loss of their relationship and through this, they’ve painted new portraits of their existence.
Now, as adults, three years have passed and their story will continue with a meeting by chance. Mia, a rising star in classical music thanks to her time at Juilliard and growth of her already natural talent. Adam, now ever so present in tabloids after striking gold with his band Shooting Star and beautiful, celebrity girlfriend on his arms.
This time, to shake things up a bit, we see the story unfold from Adam’s point of view which can be at times frustrating (wouldn’t we all like to hear more about those three years from Mia’s point of view?) but still captures our attention from the get-go.
During this chance meeting; the two spend the night exploring New York City in an effort to gain closure for their relationship in the past. We learn bits and pieces of the time that has passed from If I Stay until the first chapter of this installment through form of flashbacks and narration. Questions are answered and hearts are broken through these answers.
We, as readers, cannot help but to hope throughout each chapter that they rekindle their romance and embrace the spark that has seemed to never die. It’s not everyday that hope seems to remain. And both Mia and Adam are incredibly strong characters who deserve the hope and happiness that the other could provide through closure.
Closure: something both desperately desire and need. Although this spin on events could sound cliche, it remains realistic and raw in the way we’ve come to know in Gayle’s spectacular; tearjerking writing. Her characters and their emotions come to life in such a simplistic way it, thankfully, don’t lose any of the magic from our first introduction to the final pages.
And the end is very, very satisfying.
In other words, Where She Went is just as stunning as you’d expect. It’s a hit with me and I cannot stress this enough. Words that come to mind when I think of it: beautiful, heartbreaking, touching and engaging. I will cherish these stories forever because they bring such emotion to you as you find the truths to each.
Gayle Foreman, you can break my heart and put it back together any day of the week.