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.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is a young adult fiction novel about a teenage musical prodigy and her family.  She’s got a boyfriend with a band that is just taking off, and she’s under pressure to gain admission to Julliard playing the cello.  Tragedy strikes and changes everything, shaking up her world.

Forman’s prose is engaging from the first page, but the tragedy that befalls Mia is a predictable plot device that forces this blossoming 17-year-old to reassess her life.  Her music transports her to a safe place and even though she is not as confident as she thinks she must be to perform it, it is as much a part of her as her family and her boyfriend.  The strength of this novel is Mia’s character, her introspection, her trepidation at experiencing new things, and her ability to overcome embarrassment and fear.

“And I didn’t know how to rock-talk at all.  It was a language I should’ve understood, being both a musician and Dad’s daughter, but I didn’t.  It was like how Mandarin speakers can sort of understand Cantonese but not really, even though non-Chinese people assume all Chinese can communicate with one another, even though Mandarin and Cantonese are actually different.”  (page 47)

Mia often feels on the outside of her family, which has deep rock-and-roll ties in the community, and from her boyfriend, who is a lead guitarist in a up-and-coming rock band, and sometimes even from her own classical music because she has not done many of the things that other classical music prodigies have done with local quartets, etc.  However, Mia continues to plug along, beating back her insecurities and striving for the life she wants.  Forman has a firm grasp of a teenager’s life — the peer pressures they face, the insecurities that haunt each decision they make, and the passions in which they lose themselves.

Forman builds tension by shifting from Mia’s present into her past, careful not to rush through each moment and unfurling revelations as Mia sees them in each fragment of time.  Readers will be moved by Mia’s story and her struggle to find her true self amid high school pressures and more.  But If I Stay by Gayle Forman is more than a coming of age story, it’s about the ties that bind us to one another and how we keep those ties alive and relevant.

This is my 15th 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 is my 32nd book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.


Mailbox Monday #134 and Library Loot #5

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon at the right to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is A Sea of Books.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailboxmeme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto from Shelf Awareness.

2.  Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax from Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting for review in the fall.

3.  Whiplash by Catherine Coulter, which my husband found in our Sam’s Club cart; I’ll probably give this one to my mom since it’s more her cup of tea.

4. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison from Shelf Awareness.

These are from the library sale, only one for me though:

5. Dubliners by James Joyce

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

7. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

8. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis

9. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

10. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

11. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Library Loot:

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

12. Toys by James Patterson & Neil McMahon

13.  If I Stay Gayle Forman

14.  Where She Went by Gayle Forman

What did you receive this week?