Friday, August 19, 2011

Where She Went - Gayle Forman

I've had this book "Where She Went" on my shelves since SIBA last year (in fact, somehow I got two copies).  I knew it was a sequel to "If I Stay", but I made no effort to get my hands on that book until just recently.  When Jill gave me the talk, and informed me my life wouldn't be right until I read them both.  Since you can read these beauties quickly, in a day or two, and it is so important they be read together, you're getting the one-two punch here at You've GOTTA Read This.  See yesterday for the review of "If I Stay".

Disclaimer:  Inevitably, as with many sequels, the review of this book will offer spoilers for "If I Stay".  It can't be helped and I am sorry.  I will be as vague as possible and still try to convey the nature of this book, yet if you prefer to go into the experience cold, just skip down to the last paragraph.

Synopsis:  Several years have passed since Mia's tragic accident, and we are catching up on things from the point of view of Adam, Mia's high school boyfriend.  Mia has attended Julliard with her cello, dumped Adam in the process, and is now a touring professional.  Adam has become an international rock star, complete with drugs, babes and losing his sense of self.  It is a mystery why Mia turned her back on Adam after everything they had been through, and it overshadows everything good in his life.

Then one evening, Adam impulsively attends one of Mia's concerts in Carnegie Hall, and the two face each other once again.  For one night, Adam and Mia wander around New York City, talking about their lives, their dreams, their mistakes and regrets.  Most importantly, they confront the emotionally-wrought reasons why their relationship fell apart.

My thoughts:  While I thoroughly enjoyed "If I Stay", this sequel really hit the mark with me.  It was a much more introspective, much smarter story, reflecting the maturity of the characters.  For the first 50 pages or so, I had a permanent grimace on my face...where the HELL was Mia?  Why isn't she with Adam?  What could have gone so wrong?  But then things fell into place, and I was immediately reminded of a beloved movie of mine, "Before Sunset".

(Begin a small digression) "Before Sunset" is actually a sequel to "Before Sunrise", both starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke.  In "Before Sunrise", this young couple meets in Vienna, and spends a night roaming the city, getting to know each other, falling in love, then parting ways the next morning.  In "Before Sunset", they run into each other in Paris nine years later, after life has worn them down.  Full of smart dialogue and nostalgic musings on what might have been, this sequel is romantic and sexy.  (End of digression)

Once this connection was made in my mind, I was a goner.  I smiled when Adam and Mia smiled.  I wrung my hands when their conversation turned painful.  And I began my mantra that I mutter under my breath with certain books..."this better end right, this better end right".  Forman succeeds at delivering a satisfying book for young adults and adults alike.                 

You wouldn't have to read these two books together, and you could read this one first, but why?  Get them both, and reserve your next rainy day for these two heart-warming books.

4.5 out of 5 stars 

17 comments:

Beth F said...

Okay, I had to kind of skip this review so I didn't get even the merest hint of a spoiler. But like I said on your other review of Forman, I think you've convinced me to read these.

caite said...

ok, you are a romantic, while I have a cold, dark heart.
although I did sort of like Before Sunset/Before Sunrise.

Jenny said...

I felt the same way with this book!!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Love when we're in sync! :--)

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

I adored the first. This may be my weekend pick, tomorrow. I need a positively certified GOOD story.

Kathleen said...

Sounds like two that I need to add to my list. You never steer me wrong!

Julie P. said...

Bring on the rain...

Zibilee said...

I also skipped over a portion of this book because I want to go into these sort of blind. I am hoping that I will get to these before the month is out, and will be interested in sharing my opinions on them with you!

Trisha said...

It's unusual, but awesome, when a sequel is better than the first. I haven't had that experience many times, but when it does happen, it's somehow really...dang, what's the word?.....emotional, exciting, totally awesome? :)

Alyce said...

I agree with you, especially about wanting it to end right! :)

Darlene said...

I didn't read the reviews because I have both of these books on my shelf to read and I do want to read them together. I'm thinking maybe the read-a-thon would be a good time.

reviewsbylola said...

I loved If I Stay, although it did feel like it lacked a little bit of insight, so I am glad this one seemed a little more well developed. Can't wait to read it!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

Yayy! I agree completely, I really enjoyed the first one but the second one was a more complete package, for me. Awesome review.

Nikki-ann said...

I read If I Stay last year and have been meaning to read Where She Went for some time now. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Carrie K. said...

I loved this one even more than the first, too.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Like you I loved this one more than the first one! The characters' maturity, what they had lived through, really made this story, more realistic to me. Glad to hear it worked for you too!

(also, your post made me want to watch those movies again!)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I knew you'd love this one and I'm so glad you did! I never thought of the Before Sunset/Before Sunrise comparison, but it's brilliant. I adore those movies and that's a great way to describe these books.