Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman


…Still drying my eyes from this one. Adam Wilde, new-fangled rockstar, spews raw emotion with every thought and action leading up to his reunion with Mia Hall, a music lover of the Classical Cellist kind and the first and only love of his life. The first book, If I Stay, was told from Mia’s perspective: the novel opens with the car crash that smote her entire family, save herself. Adam’s racing thoughts, confusion, and heartache resonate following the couple’s breakup when Mia leaves Oregon for Juilliard. Though he has the life every aspiring star craves–celebrity girlfriend Bryn, record deals, two Grammys, sold-out shows–Adam finds himself on pills and smokes to temper the pain of an inexplicable void, a void that even his beloved music can’t fill. How can you let the person you love go at the time you need each other most? After more than three years, Adam still finds life wanting. He sees her eyes every time he closes his own. Her voice is only a memory, but he can’t stop himself from listening for it.

You’re really rooting for this guy, even though it’s clear that Adam is reaping what he sowed during those heart-wrenching moments before Mia began to wake from her coma. His whirlwind of emotions is realistic without superimposing on the plot, which is an allegory for his own life journey. Mia drags Adam on a scavenger hunt of her favorite NYC haunts as an introduction for Adam and her own farewell to the city she loves; Adam revisits key memories, interprets Mia’s words, and puzzles out the truth about their breakup, traveling on his own scavenger hunt of self-discovery. In both novels, Forman’s deftly transforms his character from the concerned “man”; to the rockstar “guy” on the brink of mental collapse; to the genuine person that Adam always has been. Where She Went is a complex and wholly satisfying work of YA literature.

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