Where She Went

Where She Went

Gayle Forman’s sequel to If I Stay sees the aftermath of the horrific accident that Mia suffered. Told instead from Adam’s perspective, Where She Went is just as emotional and heart-wrenching as the first novel. Adam’s band has now broken through – their album Collateral Damage has become a global success and the band are now on tour. Yet Adam is struggling to cope not only with the fame but also with his estrangement from Mia. A chance meeting sees them reunited for 24 hours, but will it be enough to get them back together?

As with the first of this series, I was worried about the balance between sentimentality and storytelling. However, Forman seems to have pulled it off again. Adam is a sincere, believable character whose narration is more of an internal monologue than self-indulgent emotion. His reaction and insecurity about whether he is being too emotional considering that the accident didn’t happen to his family is what intrigues us as readers. Forman manages to pull off his character whilst avoiding cliché and sentimentality – which given the subject matter is quite an achievement.

However, Where She Went is by no means as good as the first novel (isn’t it always the case?). The story takes quite a while to get underway as Forman is trying to get us up to speed with what has happened in the few years’ intermission between the end of the first novel and the beginning of the second, which isn’t managed all that successfully. Even though we are dropped straight into the scene, pages and pages are dedicated to almost ‘info-dumping’ flashbacks which tell us about the band and Adam’s separation from Mia. It’s a little tedious to say the least – there are only so many times that we can hear about Adam’s difficulty with surviving tours and his painful estrangement from Mia.

Having said that, once the story gets under way the tension created by Forman is terrific. Again the dialogue is impeccably realistic when Mia and Adam are reunited (now that Adam is a famous rock star and Mia an up-and-coming classical musician). The awkwardness created with their half sentences and Adam’s internal, angry reactions are intriguing and exciting to follow. What is good about Forman is her ability to push the boundaries of other novels of this subject matter. She doesn’t just create an idealistic world for the aftermath of the accident; instead she looks to evoke realism from the novel and its characters.

Where She Went is certainly worth a read if you enjoyed the first novel. Though not as good nor as heart-breaking as If I Stay, Where She Went manages to continue the difficult, emotional journey that Adam and Mia are experiencing without dripping into sentimentalism. An easy, quick read for anyone who has enjoyed the first of this series.


by Julia Molloy


by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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