Carla's Reviews > Where She Went

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
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Jul 01, 11

bookshelves: snotface-tears, forever-love

Memories are funny little things. They stick in your mind and swirl round your head. Some of them fade with time, others are so dominent that you can just close your eyes and BAM, you're there, in that moment and everything, from the feel of the cold biting your fingers, to the softness of your favourite t-shirt on your shoulders, is so vivid and real. I can remember every single detail about the day I was introduced to Mia and Adam. I can remember being uncertain as to whether I wanted to buy it. I can remember Jenny promising me that I wouldn't be sorry. I can remember that we ate pizza and then walked in the cold through the town centre. I can remember starting it that same night, hands still cold from bus ride home. I can remember every single emotion that I felt. I can close my eyes and i'm back there, and I feel myself falling in love with this story, these characters, over and over again.

After the events in If I Stay my whole heart belonged to Mia. I wanted to reach into the pages and take some of her pain and bear some of this horrendous grief that had hit her like a sledgehammer. Reading If I Stay was hard. I will admit, I cried and cried and cried and cried some more, so much so, I had a headache for about two days. I can't look at it on my bookshelf and not give it a second glance or a quick skim. I will admit, I can't wrap my head around the amount of strength of character and bravery it must have taken for Mia to stay. This book just completely blindsighted me. I just was not expecting it, which baffles me in a way because I should KNOW this woman has a way with words that just totally makes me loose my shit. But, the myriad of emotions that I felt just seriously annihalated me.

How can someone make heartache, anguish and gut wrenching devastation so beautiful? I still don't know the answer to this question, I just know that it's a skill Forman has mastered and wow does she weild this weapon well. Everything from the anger that Adam feels that leaks into his songwriting, from the careful and quiet way that Mia holds herself together even though her life has crumbled to the ground. Seeing them both now, more mature than they were in If I Stay, but all the more real because of the history we have with them as a reader, it was such an intensely emotional experience. You can see the beauty in the brutality of their existences, how each of them understand the other so well, and how much you want them to bridge the gap between them, which they themselves have inadvertantly built.

When I heard about this sequel, I wasn't sure. But really, that's not how I see it now. They're like opposite sides of the spectrum if that makes sense, always in harmony, perfecting each other and complimenting each other. I think both of them, If I Stay and Where She Went could do perfectly well as a pair or seperate. If I Stay was the ultmiate choice. It was about absolute devastation and profound loss. Where She Went is more about anger than If I Stay, it's like a prime part of the grieving process, and learning to rebuild this life that you wanted. This life that you need to live without the past chained to your wrist like shackles, but locked into your heart where it belongs.

Seeing through Adam's eyes, feeling the emotions that he feels and flashing back to the past that haunts him is precisely why this book worked so well for me. With Forman's writing ability and her amazing way of making even a 21 year old boy rock star seem like my second skin was mindblowing. The interchangable way she made me feel love and anger, so fast and hard was shocking. Which is exactly how I would expect the emotions of Adam to be; turbulent, violent, touching and resiliant and devastating. Before this book, I never really comrehended what Mia's family's accident would be like for him. I loved him as a character and I wanted her to stay if not for the sake of him, but I never really thought what the ramifications of her decision and the aftershocks of the events would do to him. It's a testament to Formans writing that a lot of the time during this book I felt a LOT of anger towards Mia. I know. I know!!!

And the music. Oh gosh the music. I won't say a lot on that subject, only what Adam has to say, which I think is enough -

First you inspect me
Then you dissect me
Then you reject me
I wait for the day
That you’ll resurrect me“Animate” Collateral Damage, Track 1

I can't describe to you how I feel right now. It's like smiling through tears, speaking when you have nothing to say, dreaming in daylight. Where She Went is utterly breathtaking. It's realising that grief has to power to bring you to your knees, but that love can be the hand that holds you steady whilst you get your balance. A book about love and second chances and living, truly living. I don't think there is enough space or time or words for me to express how much I hope you read this book.
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