Title: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: Sequel to If I Stay
ISBN: 9780525422945
Pages: 264 pages
Publisher/Date: Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., c2011.
Publication Date: April 5, 2011

She left the rehab center after four weeks, two weeks ahead of schedule. She could walk with a cane, open a jar of peanut butter, and play the hell out of Beethoven. […]
She left for Julliard the day after Labor Day. I drove her to the airport. She kissed me good-bye. She told me that she loved me more than life itself. Then she stepped through security.
She never came back. (46-47)

In the book If I Stay, we’re introduced to Mia, a cellist who loses her family in a car crash. After Mia recovers, Adam expects things to obviously be different. He doesn’t realize how different until Mia leaves him for school and then abandons him. She stops answering his calls and e-mails and never returns to see him. Three years later, Adam is a successful musician in his own right, fame mostly gained from songs he wrote after Mia left him. While waiting for a plane, he realizes that Mia is playing a concert in the same city. His spur of a moment decision spirals into a night where both Mia and Adam are forced to rehash old memories and struggle to come to terms with what happened. Can or should they forgive and forget, or is the distance between them meant to be?

I devoured this book. Readers might remember that I LOVED If I Stay, and I was a little leery about the prospect of a sequel. Especially because knowing that there is a sequel kind of negates the suspense that Gayle Forman so carefully crafted in her first book. But I was thankfully proven wrong, and the emotional tension is just as heart breaking when told from Adam’s perspective. Adam doesn’t know why Mia left, and while he understands he can never completely comprehend what she’s going through, her departure just added to the sorrow he felt when her parents and brother died because they were like a second family to him. He’s channeled his feelings through his music, but it’s only providing an outlet and it’s not helping him resolve all those emotions. He needs closure, which he doesn’t have and he’s not sure he really wants because that would mean it’s over for good. It’s brought up, and readers of the original might remember that he told Mia while she was in her coma:

If you stay, I’ll do whatever you want. I’ll quit the band, go with you to New York. But if you need me to go away, I’ll do that, too. Maybe coming back to your old life would just be too painful, maybe it’d be easier for you to erase us. And that would suck, but I’d do it. I can lose you like that if I don’t lose you today. I’ll let you go. If you stay.(200)

Mia is also as conflicted as Adam, although you don’t see it as much since this book is told from Adam’s perspective. But Mia is trying really hard to separate herself from the accident that has now come to define her. She wants her identity back, and while yes the accident has affected her in ways that I don’t think she realizes, even three years later, I think she was smart to distance herself from people who were focusing on it as the primary piece of her personality. It really isn’t discussed for readers to see, but I can only imagine how painfully difficult it was for Mia to do that, to cut her support system loose until they were able to support her and not her recovery.

An inspiring read about the power of love and music, fans of Forman will not be disappointed.

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