You did it to me again, Gayle! You made my heart ache, but this time you left me with a huge, toothy smile on my face. I would go as far to say that ‘Where She Went‘ is even better than its prequel, ‘If I Stay.’ Which is saying a lot, because I love the ‘If I Stay‘ novel.
In ‘Where She Went‘ Adam and Mia have been apart for three years. Adam and his band have blown up, are the hottest thing around. He’s a true rockstar now. He even has himself a beautiful celebrity girlfriend. Meanwhile, Mia is making quite the name for herself in the world of classical music.
Adam now lives in Los Angeles, while Mia calls New York home. One day while Adam is in New York, he sees that Mia is performing at Carnegie Hall. Curiosity gets the best of him, and he slips in to watch her, hoping to go unnoticed. But Adam Wilde doesn’t do anything ‘unnoticed.’ Like I said, he’s a huge rockstar. People recognize him everywhere he goes.
Chance brings Adam and Mia together again for a night. ‘Where She Went‘ plays out like one long, beautiful scene. Most of the novel takes place over one magical little night where Adam and Mia catch up while exploring the city. Neither of them want to call it a night and go their separate ways, so they explore through the night and into the morning. During this time old wounds are reopened as Adam’s frustration practically spills out of him. He loves Mia so much. His favorite thing in the world is not music, or his guitar, or fame, or fortune . . . his favorite thing is loving Mia. And after she broke up with him three years ago, after losing her family in that tragic accident, Adam has never been the same. Mia even inspired the very record that shot Adam’s band to fame. She was always with him, in a way. Always in the back of his mind.
‘Where She Went‘ is Adam’s story, so we get to really understand the inner workings of his mind this time. The words “perfectly imperfect” come to mind when I think of Adam. He’s so beautiful, but also such a mess. He’s closed up and misses Mia so much and you can feel his frustration throughout this book. I began to feel the same way as him. So. Much. Frustration. I hated that this epic love of theirs just shattered down around them for the reasons Mia gave him. Why didn’t they try harder? Why didn’t Mia say something? Why did Adam just let her slip away if he loved her so much? These questions all ran through my head while reading ‘Where She Went.’ But this is real life, this is always how love crumbles. Gayle gets it. At the same time, the three years apart to focus on work, and to grow up, and learn about the world, seemed to have done them both good. And it surely made them appreciate what they had when they had each other.
There is no doubt about it: Gayle Forman has quickly become one of my favorite authors. She gets it. She digs deep and delivers such believable stories that pull you in and make you feel things you never knew you could feel. Her writing unearths emotions I never knew I had. Her stories are imperfect, because that’s what life is: “Life is this big, fat, gigantic, stinking mess. That’s the beauty of it, too.”