Life can change in an instant. Sometimes we have a choice, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we have whole days filled with choices that mean our life will never be the same. That is where Gayle Forman excels. She did it first when she took us through a day in Mia's life in If I Stay. Now she's back, shooting us three years into the future to tell us Adam's story in Where She Went. You won't be able to put this book down.
Adam made Mia a promise in If I Stay. He promised her that if she stayed -- if she didn't die -- that he would do anything she needed him to do. He'd stay. Or he'd leave. He just wanted her to live. Mia heard him and took him at his word. One day she just stopped returning his calls. She went on with her life in New York City, and Adam fell apart. He curled into himself and didn't let anyone else near him.
Then one day, he exploded. He got angry and he channeled that anger into his music. The next thing he knows, he's back with his band and their music is shooting up the charts. Now three years later he's a bona fide rock star with the required platinum records, world tour and actress girlfriend. He has everything a rock musician dreams of and doesn't have the one thing he really wants -- Mia. He can't move past the fact that she just cut him out of her life without a word. He's a mess, and he'll probably never be the same until he finds out what happened. A stopover in New York City before leaving for his tour offers an unexpected chance for him to put Mia behind him. Maybe he can finally find out where she went.
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I wasn't especially eager to read Where She Went. I really, really liked If I Stay. It was one of those books that brings you to tears and that you carry around with you for days after you turn the last page. I was in Mia's world when I read it and that was part of the problem. You see, I didn't particularly like Adam. I understood why Mia loved him, and he's exactly the kind of boy I would have liked when I was her age -- musician, smart, and just enough of a bad boy without really being a bad boy. I was convinced that I couldn't like a book told completely from Adam's point of view.
I was completely and totally wrong.
Where She Went didn't make me cry, but it impacted me in other ways. It poked my anxiety buttons. I felt sad for Adam, which is something I didn't expect. Adam lost a part of his family the same day that Mia lost hers, and then he lost Mia. He was really never allowed to mourn, because the world didn't see it as his loss. As he retreated into his music by writing songs, it caused problems with his band and he began to lose that as well. Adam was a walking mess of anxiety, loss and anger that was made all the worse because he was famous and everyone wanted a piece of him.
Not only did Forman trick me into liking a character I was positive I did not like, she made me a tad obsessive about it. Even after I finished the book, I'd go back and reread a few more pages just to be sure that it really happened. I didn't want to leave Adam's story. She kept me wanting more.
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