Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman (Review)

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

From the jacket flap:
(Taken from Gayle Forman's website)
My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her. I simply want to touch her cheek, still flushed from the night’s performance. I want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet—not miles, not continents, not years—and to take a callused finger to her face. I want to touch her to make sure it’s really her, not one of those dreams I had so often after she left when I’d see her so clear as day, be ready to kiss her or take her to me only to wake up with Mia just beyond reach.

But I can’t touch her. This is a privilege that’s been revoked.

It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it . . . and three years

since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’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, powerful 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.

FUN FACT: From the minute I found out there was to be a sequel to If I Stay, I was haunted by dreams of it. Well, no, I’m not serious. But it was #1 on my books that I’d do anything to get my hands on. Humiliate myself, do things that could get me into trouble with anyone, or whatever, I was down for it. As long as in the end, the reward was a copy of Where She Went.

To find the words to talk about Where She Went coherently – without the use of words like, ‘OMG’ and incessant gushing – would be like digging through my Broca’s area (the part of the brain that processes speech and language) and trying to find the words that could do justice to this brilliant sequel to If I Stay. Many have argued that If I Stay ended in a good place and there was really no need for a sequel and to those people, I only have one thing to say: What about Adam’s side of the story? Yes, we all loved Mia and cheered for her while she stumbled over each obstacle set in her path, but did we once stop to think about what Adam was going through? About how what Mia was going through was killing him inside out? I guess you can allude that to Ms. Forman’s skill as a writer that made us completely disregard Adam’s plight. Nonetheless, it was there. It was there through all of If I Stay and you can see it leap off of every single page of Where She Went. When you suffer a tragedy, one often asks the question: Why? One looks for an explanation that can make some sense of what happened, but rarely is there a black and white answer to be found. Well, Mia is Adam’s tragedy. And Where SheWent does a fantastic job of bringing to light the effect of and the aftermath of the accident on Adam.

As always Ms. Forman’s hauntingly beautiful prose captures the reader’s heart and soul and makes it a visceral experience. I could wax poetic about the plot or summarize the book or the events that take place but instead I’m just going to tell you some of my favorite things about the book that hopefully you may relate to as well.

  • It’s set in New York City. (Mia @ Juilliard. Adam, for music label business). You can’t go wrong with that setting. Ever. Ms. Forman, in one night, manages to create a vivid panoramic view of the city that never sleeps. Literally.
  • Ms. Forman makes Mia & Adam yell out in fury, and anger, and agony, and makes them cry in the middle of the night (or really early morning) on the Brooklyn Bridge. (Who does that?)
  • This time, both Adam and Mia are on an equal footing. They’re both popular in their own right. Sure, Adam maybe more popular because of his rock band but Mia is well known in the classical circle as well. (She plays at Carnegie Hall at the age of 20—major accomplishment).
  • When Adam goes to see Mia’s concert in casual clothing (and all the other people are dressed up – coz you dress up when you go to a classical concert or Broadway show) and he feels like a fly on the wall, I love his accounting of the concert and how at the end that one bit he says, gets to me. Every. Single. Time. “Tonight I won’t kiss her. Or touch her. Or even see her up close. Tonight I’ll listen. And that’ll be enough”.
  • Ms. Forman really gets inside Adam’s head and one can’t help but see that Mia may have been physically hurt, but it was Adam who suffered the worst kind of mental trauma.
  • (SPOILER) The scene where they have a mini concert all by themselves in Mia’s apartment. I could just imagine it in my head. (That is one scene I want to see brought to life, by the way).
  • Every chapter has lyrics from songs in the album “Collateral Damage” by Shooting Star (Adam’s band). Both fictitious. By the time the book ends, you want them to be real. You want to find a record label that will sign them and produce those songs. Well, I wanted that to happen.
  • It’s Adam.
  • It’s Mia.
  • It’s Gayle Forman.
  • I don’t think there’s anything left to say. WHAT MORE REASONS COULD YOU WANT TO READ THIS BOOK?

Where She Went is an accumulation of heartbreak, anxiety, first loves, broken loves, and a story of second chances, deserved or undeserved- that is dependent on the reader. Yes, some of you won’t like the choices Adam and Mia make to get to where they do at the end of the book (don’t want to spoil it) but I think once you’ve read it and had time to process it, it should make perfect sense.

(Care to guess where this is?)

Times I’ve read Where She Went: 4 times (hardcopy). 3 times (Audiobook). Waiting for NookBook to show up on April 5th @midnight.

I should also mention that when friends tell me they haven’t read If I Stay, I kind of go all, ahem, nutso (okay not really) on them and MAKE them read it. It is my life’s mission to have every single person I know read that book. I *need* them to, or I won’t be able to sleep in peace. I’ve been told I can be quite intimidating when it comes to If I Stay and now Where She Went. Honestly though, (I swear!) I am not trying to be scary or rude or whatever, I just want people to read a great book and enjoy it for their own sake. They just don’t know what they’re missing out on.

What I Was Listening To While Writing This Review:

Where She Went audiobook read by Dan Bittner (Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended. He’s the Adam in your head). I know what you’re thinking right this second: “Obsessed much, Mitali?”

Yes, I completely am. I am in love with this book and the author. Every time someone asks me who my favorite author is, I give a vague response or just say J. K. Rowling, coz you can never go wrong with that. However, now, I have taken to responding to that question with: Gayle Forman.

Find Gayle Forman on: Twitter/Website/Blog

Available wherever books are sold April 5th!

Until next time,


  1. I'm one of those crazy people that still hasn't read If I Stay. I bought it but it's been sitting on my shelf. It's definitely getting bumped to the top of my list and Where She Went is right after it.

    Great review!

  2. LOL @ the fun fact!
    and WOW what a review! i recently read this (was lucky enough to have a friend forward an ARC to me) and I agree. It was brilliant!

  3. I'm not commenting in response to your actual review, bc you know I have not read the books yet
    I am just commenting to show my love and support for your blog
    Yay, you're actually posting stuff (though that's actually more than I'm doing these days...)

  4. Me and Christina are hosting a Read Along for this book and I was wondering if you or anyone else would be interested? You can find out more about it here:

    Sorry to bother you!