Where did she go? Bryan and Robert have the answer with their review of Gayle Forman’s sequel Where She Went.
Bryan’s quick summary:
Mia Hall only woke from a coma because Adam Wilde – her fast-becoming-rock-star-boyfriend – told her he’d do anything as long as she “stayed.”
So Mia did what Adam asked, and used one of his offered options: Leave him. And go to Juillard. And break his heart.
Following on from three years after If I Stay ended, Where She Went follows Adam’s descent into depression and drug-dependency, in parallel with the megasuccess of his band, Shooting Star and his relationship with one of Hollywood’s rising stars.
He’s never been unhappier.
Where She Went is by Gayle Forman
So what did we think? (From a reader’s perspective)
1. (Robert) There’s some strong language, drug and alcohol reference, inferred sex, and the main characters are now older, so this is now edging away from strict YA territory. It’s a little jarring (if you haven’t read the blurb!) to start reading and realize this is from Adam’s perspective, but his voice is authentic enough, as is the setting of the small-town boy catapulted to recognized stardom.
2. (Robert) This is a love story of course, so we expect that Adam wants to get back with Mia. He misses her terribly, but is honoring her obvious behavioral request for him to stay out of her new life at Juilliard. We don’t really know why (for most of the book), so there’s a lot of angst, and more backstory, as there was in If I Stay.
3. (Robert) While this was a good read (and quite a fast read), it’s not as compelling as the first book, perhaps because it seems inevitable that they will get back together somehow, even if there is a lot of unravelling and hurt to overcome. There is, however, some nice emotional moments toward the end, where we really feel what Adam must be experiencing.
Overall though, this book was not anywhere near as immediate and interesting as If I Stay, probably because the premise was weak, and the goal a simple romantic one, with seemingly little conflict for the ordinary reader to identify with: the poor, hard-done-by rock star and the talented, rising cellist!
What did we think from a writer’s perspective?
1. (Robert) As above, I found the premise less than compelling. I really didn’t care much whether Adam won Mia back or not, since he seemed to have turned into a self-sabotaging jerk. (Which in and of itself wasn’t UNinteresting, just not a story premise!)
2. (Robert) The writing is neat though, and there are some nice, very raw moments of dialog and description, especially when Adam behaves like a complete moron to Kim (Mia’s best friend).
3. (Robert) I wish there had been more between the lines! Early on, Adam refers to some “three-year restraining order she basically took out on me, which I violated tonight,” and I didn’t understand what this meant. Was this some metaphor for the communication vacuum she cast him into? I wish there had been a real reason for this “restraining order” and some deeper conflict, as it foreshadowed something that never came to light.
Having said that, there IS some great foreshadowing in this book that I didn’t pick (bit of a spoiler: the guitar) and so the writing craft unfolds nicely. I guess I found it a bit of a doctor’s waiting room book!
Bryan and Robert’s Famous Takeaways:
1. If you switch POV completely in a sequel, it better be for a very good reason (and not because of a publishing contract). This one needed higher stakes or a bigger conflict, given that book one was about an entire family perishing, leaving one in a coma, not knowing whether she’d make it through (and told from the POV of a ghost at that!).
2. It’s still an enjoyable read, for all that. Maybe 3.5 stars?
3. I actually liked experiencing Mia from someone else’s perspective, yet I missed her POV so much, I kept expecting each chapter to bring her back. Maybe this was deliberate to simulate Adam’s predicament.
Prompt of the Week:
Your lifelong best friend, who you just helped at great sacrifice to yourself, has announced they have been told by their therapist to cease all contact with you, with no explanation. How does this affect your plans, and what action will you take?