Where She Went: A Review

Where She Went by Gayle FormanThree years ago Mia made a choice. Her boyfriend Adam was prepared to let Mia go if it meant she would be okay. He thought that would be enough.

Three years later: Adam knows he was wrong.

Mia is gone. She left. She’s on the opposite coast at Juilliard just like she should be with her bright star on the rise. She walked away from Adam and never looked back.

Adam is living in LA. He’s dating a beautiful actress. He’s partly responsible for his band’s meteoric rise to rock stardom. He has everything he ever wanted. Except without Mia none of it seems to matter.

Three years ago an accident changed Mia and Adam’s lives forever.

Three years later an accidental meeting in New York City will change everything all over again in Where She Went (2011) by Gayle Forman.

Find it on Bookshop.

Where She Went is the sequel to Forman’s poignant novel If I Stay.

Narrated by Adam (If I Stay was written in Mia’s voice), Where She Went follows a similar structure to its predecessor. Chapters written in the present tense explaining Adam’s current state and the central plot alternate with chapters written in the past tense (prefaced by song lyrics from the album that launched Adam into the world of rock stardom) relate key events that led him to this point. These looks at Adam’s past also answer a simple question about Mia, namely: where she went three years ago.

In addition to looking at Adam’s evolving relationship with Mia, Forman does something really hard in this story. She looks at recovery and rehabilitation without glossing over the messy parts. And she does it really well.

When I finished If I Stay I thought it was a perfect book. Forman’s sparse writing is poetic and beautiful and so painfully heartfelt. The ending made perfect sense. Even with a tragedy at the core of its plot If I Stay remains one of the most gorgeously optimistic books I’ve ever read.

Where She Went is all of that but, somehow, also more. It’s an evocative look at New York City. It’s a story about love and loss. It’s charming, it’s funny, it’s moving. In short, Where She Went is everything readers want not only in a sequel but also in any good novel.

Possible Pairings: Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, Falling Through Darkness by Carolyn MacCullough, The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta*, The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

*I know this is a total pain because The Piper’s Son is another sequel and you’ll need to read Saving Francesca in addition. BUT I was struck while reading at how similar The Piper’s Son and Where She Went are in terms of voice, structure, and just general vibe. I can guarantee 100% that if you enjoy one you will enjoy the other. Trust me.

Exclusive Bonus Content: I really loved the original cover for If I Stay but the new cover for the paperback edition and the cover of Where She Went have grown on me. At one point in this book Adam says Mia has quiet good looks that have always been devastating for him. I can’t tell you how much I love that line. The model on this cover, in my view, captures the essence of that kind of beauty. Anyway. I like it. Props to designer Abby Kuperstock and Selina De Maeyer who took the cover photo.

You should also check out Gayle Forman’s blog for the official Where She Went playlist. Awesome!