Review: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

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In this companion novel, Gayle Forman continues the story from where If I Stay left off but this time, it’s told from Adam’s POV.

Here’s the blurb 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.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I’ll confess that in the first book, I was not really invested in Adam’s character. Sure, he was Mia’s boyfriend, a close family friend, and in him Mia found a kindred soul as a music lover. But I was so focused on Mia and what she was going through that I was not able to give much attention to Adam. So, in a sense, I never really knew him as I should have, I guess.

But in this second book, my gosh, I’ve turned into a fan, a follower, and a believer. As I read and read more, I learn more about him, not just as an extension of Mia but as his own individual, as a person with his own attitudes, his own beliefs, and his own miseries.

And the beauty of Gayle Forman’s writing really shines through. The way she weaved the flashbacks into the story was seamless and smooth. One moment you’re locked in on the present but then she hits you with these flashbacks, be it a sweet moment or a devastating one, and for a moment you’re flabbergasted with how the past echoes into the present. And You. Get. It.

One of my favourite things in this book are Adam’s songs and the way that Gayle Forman continues to add layers to the complexity of the relationship and everything that had happened through the song lyrics. And I appreciated it so much that they are consonant with the theme of each chapter. It was such a wonderful literary technique. Here’s my favourite from the bunch:

You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow but realized too late
There was nothing but air underneath my feet

“BRIDGE”
COLLATERAL DAMAGE,
Track 4

It just sounded so like Adam. And it squeezes your heart to know the reason why he wrote these words.

At the beginning of the book, I thought I knew how the story would go and how it would end. But towards the end of the book, I slowly lose that certainty. And it was not a bad thing. At all. Because as a reader, I almost devoured the book, wanting to know what ending Gayle Forman has in store for me. And she did not disappoint.

Rating: 4 ½ / 5 stars

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