Rummanah Aasi
   Gayle Forman's If I Stay is one of my favorite YA books. I was ecstatic that there would be a companion novel, Where She Went, coming out this year I immediately put it on my Top 10 Books I'm Anticipating for 2011 and pre-ordered the book, which is something I rarely do. Once I received the book, I wanted to wait for the right moment to read it. If I Stay made me an emotional wreck and I had an inkling Where She Went would do the same. The book sat on my bookcase for a while until one of my girlfriends told me I had to sit and read it. And I did. I opened it at 10 pm on Saturday night and read halfway through until my head hurt and completed it the next day. Good thing I had tissues, because I used a lot of them.

Description (from Goodreads): It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
   Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Review: Though it is not necessary to read If I Stay to enjoy and understand what is happening in Where She Went, I would highly recommend doing so in order to get the full range of emotions for the story and its characters. If you have not read If I Stay, don't read this review any further. It will spoil the ending for you. The book takes place three years after the tragic events in If I Stay.
  Adam captured my heart from the very moment he appeared on the page of If I Stay. He is sweet, sensitive, artistic, funny, and absolutely head over heels for Mia. Adam and Mia belonged together, a couple who easily moved and thought as one. To watch Adam crumble in despair in Where She Went broke my heart and had tears streaming down my face. Seriously, I think I started crying on page 50 and didn't stop until the last page. I had my mom worry when my eyes were red after I finished. I tried telling her about the book which started me up all over again.
  Unlike If I Stay where we stayed in Mia's head, Where She Went is solely told from Adam's point of view. Forman's prose is still very spare and lyrical. There were many sentences that I reread because they were just so beautiful and spot-on. The book explores the devastation of grief and the promise of new hope. Most books written about grief and death, focus on the emotions on those who were directly involved and connected to those who have died. In Where She Went, Adam scolds himself for thinking he too should grieve for what he has lost even though they don't technically belong to him. Like me, Adam holds his emotions internally, putting up walls that are too high for others to scale or too hard for others to break down. He uses music as a catharsis, to try to make sense of what has happened, and even that he has started to hate. Adam's voice is so strong that it effectively mutes what Mia is feeling and thinking. There were many times that I was furious at Mia for being so inconsiderate and selfish. Like Adam, I knew that she deserved to be by herself, be angry, and to come to terms of the aftermath that has permanently altered her life. 
 What I also loved about the book is the New York setting, which I visited a few months ago. It was very cool reading about the locations and then picturing them in my head. What's even better is reading Adam's lyrics at the beginning of each chapter. You can almost feel his wave of anger, sadness, and grief rolling through each word. In my opinion, Where She Went, was perfectly written. It couldn't have been written or ended any better.

Some Favorite Quotes:

"I look at her there in the shadows of the shut-down city, her hair falling onto her face, and I can see her trying to figure out if I’ve lost it. And I have to fight the urge to take her by the shoulders and slam her against a shuttered building until we feel the vibrations ringing through both of us. Because I suddenly want to hear her bones rattle. I want to feel the softness of her flesh give, to hear her gasp as my hip bone jams into her. I want to yank her head back until her neck is exposed. I want to rip my hands through her hair until her breath is labored. I want to make her cry and then lick up the tears. And then I want to take my mouth to hers, to devour her alive, to transmit all the things she can’t understand." (page 143)
"Barrel of the gun, rounds one two three
She says I have to pick: choose you, or choose me
Metal to the temple, the explosion is deafening
Lick the blood that covers me
She’s the last one standing
Collateral Damage, Track 11" 
(page 113)
Rating: 5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and allusion to sex. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
8 Responses
  1. I agree. Adam and Mia totally belong together! And his story, the pain he held inside, it totally broke my heart, too.

    I had to re-read this book several times to make sure I didn't miss anything through my tears. Forman's prose makes it so worth it. :)

    That first quote kills me every time. Thanks so much for this review, Rummanah.

  2. I bought this book as soon as it came out and still haven't read it! Pathetic considering how excited I am for it. I love that it made you cry so much. That was a highlight of If I Stay.

  3. I forgot to asked whether Ethan sounds more like a girl than a realistic guy. I think he sounds enough like a guy to be believable. He is more thoughtful and sensitive than a lot of guys, but not in a way that seems overly girly. Felt pretty real to me.

  4. You took the words right out of my mouth! Fabulous, thoughtful review! :)

  5. Beautiful review! I love this book so much and Adam and Mia are both characters that capture your heart. And that first quote is my favourite too :)

  6. Jenny Says:

    I haven't read If I Stay yet, so I went straight to the bottom of your review and looked at the rating. I need to read these books, I don't know what my problem is or why I haven't picked them up yet! Must. Change:)

  7. Missie: I did the same thing. I had to pause a few times just to let the tears drop. I hated to see him in so much pain!

    Alison: While I cried in both books, I cried for different reasons. I hope you do read it and enjoy it as much as I did!

    Melissa: Thank you. :)

    Nic: Isn't that first quote just perfect? I need to reread it just to pick up all my favorite quotes.

    Jenny: Do pick them up, you won't be disappointed!

  8. Nat Says:

    I loved this one too. Great review!

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