(#29) Book Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Three years after the accident that killed Mia’s entire family, she’s a rising cellist star at Julliard, and her ex-boyfriend Adam is the frontman for popular rock band Shooting Star.  He’s the subject of much tabloid-scrutiny and is falling into the cliche of tortured rock star: popping pills, drinking before noon, having what amounts to a pseudo-existential crisis.  When Adam and Mia cross paths in New York the night before they’re both due for performances in other countries, the two begin to open up to each other after years of silence.

I read Where She Went the day after I completed If I Stay.  There was a lot of anticipation on the internet about the release of the sequel to Gayle Forman’s excellent novel about a young girl on the brink of death.  While I really enjoyed If I Stay, this one didn’t have the same emotional connection for me.  Ultimately, I was left a little cold by this one, readers.

It’s not that Forman isn’t a talented writer.  She is, without a doubt, a strong writer, both technically and emotionally.  She manages to create characters that are flawed and emotionally raw.  Both Adam and Mia make connections to each other and the reader that are important and real.

Telling this story from Adam’s perspective was clever, and it offered a fresh take on the story.  It allows the reader insight into his actions and thoughts in a way that wasn’t possible with the first book.  The problem with reading the story from Adam’s perspective, however, is that the reader has no idea what Mia is thinking or feeling, and this distance that is created is a bit isolating.  Of course, that might be the entire point: Adam is in the dark about what happened to his relationship with Mia three years ago, and his mounting frustration and anger have to build up in order to be released.  Even so, reading the two books so close together made this harder for me to deal with as a reader.

Many readers are going to genuinely enjoy this story and the continuing saga of Adam and Mia.  There are a ton of gushing and glowing reviews out there already.  It’s not that I didn’t like this book–I did–but something about it didn’t connect for me the way the first one did.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something is missing.  I could have done without the super-emo lyrics at the start of the chapters, that’s for sure.

Overall satisfying, fans of If I Stay shouldn’t miss this one.  It’s definitely worth a read, despite my reservations.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman, Dutton Juvenile: 2011.  Electronic galley provided by publisher.

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