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Where She Went by Gayle Forman

“But the end, when it finally came, was quiet.” (page 109)

Where She Went by Gayle Forman is the follow-up to If I Stay (my review — please do not read this review of Where She Went until you’ve read the first in the series because this will contain spoilers), and it is told from Adam’s point of view several years after the end of the previous book.  His band Shooting Star has hit it big, he’s got an A-list actress girlfriend, and all the money he could want, but what he doesn’t have is what he wants most of all.

Closure is a word that is thrown around a lot, but as humans we often want to know the reasons why things happen, and when we are not given a reason — even one we think is bollix — it incenses us.  In some ways we become obsessive about it.  Forman has a firm grasp of this obsession and its ties to passionate love, and the intensity of these feelings come to the fore when Adam is in New York and attends a concert at Carnegie Hall.

“I slide into my seat and close my eyes, remembering the last time I went to a cello concert somewhere this fancy.  Five years ago, on our first date.  Just as I did that night, I feel this mad rush of anticipation, even though I know that unlike that night, tonight I won’t kiss her.  Or touch her.”  (page 38)

In addition to the flashbacks of Adam’s rise to fame, Forman sprinkles in lyrics, which act like stanzas from poems, at the beginning of certain chapters, providing a certain lens or frame of mind for the characters.  Readers will enjoy seeing the more creative fruits of Adam’s labors because it provides an insiders view into his evolution into the “guy” he’s become.  Forman also does well showing the realities of the music industry and how many musicians just become commodities, losing themselves and their artistry.

Told from Adam’s point of view and using a similar style of flashbacks,  Forman again builds the tension between Mia and Adam from the beginning of their relationship and its end.  A young love unfinished, a journey taken alone by both characters, and so much left unsaid between them — a situation ripe for awkwardness, tenderness, and more.  Where She Went is an excellent follow up that not only fleshes out these characters, making them your friends so that you cheer them on and hope they find peace.  Both are quick, engaging reads, but are far from fluff, dealing with tough topics like death and redemption.

This is my 16th book for the 2011 Wish I’d Read That ChallengeI’ve wanted to read this book since reading Jill’s dual review in June.

  • This reminds me that I really want to read the first book…

  • Thank you for the upfront warning about spoilers. This series is definitely on my to-buy list. I’m off to read your review of “If I Stay”

  • I can’t wait to sit down with both of the books in this series and just read them. If Sam wasn’t such a handful I’d have my own private read-a-thon for all these books that I so want to read and can’t find the time to fit in.

    • Yes, you need to have a mini-read-a-thon with these books…That’s basically what I did during the work week. LOL Not sure that was a good idea in terms of sleep, but ah well. I’ll catch up on the weekend…I hope.

  • When I went to BEA, I think part of the reason I wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was because of this book. (Needless to say, it wasn’t nearly as romantic with Florida of 3R’s and Teresa of Shelf Love, but it was good, nevertheless! LOL)

    • I still haven’t walked the Brooklyn Bridge…maybe next time. I’m sure it is always more romantic with a lover?!

  • Both of your reviews are really well-done. So hard to figure out what you can say and what you can’t! I don’t know if you have ever seen the movie Before Sunset (sequel to Before Sunrise) but this book really reminded me of the movie’s premise…a night of hashing things out, talking about what was, and what could have been. I was very nervous as I got to the end of this book because there was definitely an ending that I wanted, and was prepared to throw a fit if I didn’t get it.

    • I haven’t heard of Before Sunset; sounds interesting. I hear you on the ending of this one…there was definitely an ending I was looking for!

  • Glad you enjoyed both books!

    • I think they’d make great summer reads because they’re so short and fast-paced.

  • Thanks for the warning. I skipped down and saw that you loved this book as well!

    • Yeah, you really can’t talk about this book without ruining the ending of the previous one. I didn’t want people to read about this one and ruin their reading of the first.

  • I have heard such good things about these books! I need to find some more reading time to fit all these books in.

    • It’s always tough finding time to read all the books you want to read.