Title: Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Release Date: April 5th, 2011
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Page Count: 264
Source: PurchasedRating: ★★★★★
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.
[Summary Source: Goodreads]
I'm not sure if you guys caught my review of If I Stay - the first book in this series. In the event that you missed that bit of attempted coherence, I'm gonna give you like 2 minutes to go skim it. I'll make it easy. Just click HERE.
Okay. You all caught up? You feel the love yet? Well guess what: THE SEQUEL IS JUST AS GOOD. Maybe even better. So get ready for some more unintelligible Gaby babble.
Let's break this down:
I'd like to start by noting the setting. I feel like that's some nice, safe, stable ground to work off.
The last book was set in Oregon. I know next to nothing about Oregon. Except I have this one friend who lives there (HI MARISSA) and she seems to like it.
This book, however, it set in my hometown: NYC. So when I tell you that Gayle Forman's portrayal of Manhattan is gloriously wonderful, you best take note since Manhattan and I have an unbreakable love-love relationship of epic proportions. Not to mention, I now need to go to all of Mia's secret spots. I mean, I don't think I've actually ever been to Staten Island, let alone on the ferry to get to it. Basically what I'm trying to say is that it's adventure time and you're ALL WELCOME TO JOIN ME.
But enough of the Manhattan lovefest. Let's talk about Adam instead.
Did anyone else lose it in within the first 5 freaking pages of this book? I swear. I'm sure HOW, but I think I had a stronger reaction this book than I did the first, which crazy since this book's about Adam dealing with the end of his relationship with Mia and his life in the limelight whereas If I Stay was about Mia coping with her whole family DYING and choosing to live or die herself. I was just so all over the place all the way through Where She Went in a way that was so much more UGH than I was in If I Stay. I'm pretty sure it's because If I Stay made Adam so unbelievably likable that the thought of angst-y, broken Adam was enough to break ME.
Now, this is the part of the review where I gush about Gayle Forman's brilliance. Ready?
Gayle Forman, being the genius she is, is able to take a tried and true plot twist of a protagonist getting everything it seems he wanted (Mia to live no matter what happens to their relationship and rock star status) and make me feel like it's never been done before. I think it's because she doesn't tell the story of how Adam got what he wanted but not really. She tells a story of every terrible bit of misery Adam feels because he got what he wanted. In turn the the reader can go on this journey not through telling or showing or any other intro to creative writing class nit-picky concept, but because of pure, undiluted emotion.
But I didn't just love this book because all of Gayle Forman's amazingness or Adam's feels (which positively CRUSHED me, mind you). I also loved it because we're not in Mia's head. I needed to see Mia as a person. I needed to feel more than just sad for her. Viewing Mia from someone else's POV really let me see her as a person instead of a consciousness or a specter or whatever. And to be completely honest, Adam's the only person who could really, honestly provide us with this perspective.
Guys, I could go on and on in my ridiculously disjointed manner about how much this book slays me. I could list all the quotes that evoked the crazy feels and tears. I could tell you why I love and hate everyone and everything all at once. But this book honestly left me so emotionally exhausted that you really just need to read it and feel all the drama and sadness and angst and love for yourself.
[I will say, however, that after the outpouring of feels throughout the course of the book, the ending felt a very little bit contrived. But it was only a TINY bit off-putting and in no way negates everything that came before it. Besides, I think we all needed it to be that way otherwise no one would ever stop crying ever. So I'll take it.]
The long and short of it?
Plot: Raw and so very honest
World Building: Color me a satisfied New Yorker
Character Development: If Mia and Adam weren't jumping off the pages into real life before, they so are now.
Prose: Gutting. Absolutely brilliant.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Uhhhhhhhmmmmm... YES. Please don't make me say it again.