How can I even manage to describe how much I loved this book? I mean, I liked Gayle Forman’s If I Stay well enough and even have high hopes about the movie because there’s bound to be a really cool soundtrack but Where She Went is another league entirely and had me hooked from beginning to end.
SYNOPSIS: Three years after Mia and Adam drifted apart, Adam and his band Shooting Stars hit the big time and become legitimate rock stars. Meanwhile, Mia starts to make a name for herself in the classical scene. But fame comes with a price and Adam starts to get tired of his life in the limelight and continues to spiral into depression. When a chance meeting in New York brings the two together, they dredge out old memories and open up old wounds to find closure and peace in order to finally put the ghosts of each other at rest.
Told from the perspective of Adam, the second book employed the same style as its predecessor. It happened in a space of a day and a half, with constant jaunts back to the events immediately after Mia chose to stay. While it would have seemed that the worst was over when she woke up from the accident, things did not turn out quite rosy for the young couple and instead, they found their difficult relationship further complicated by pain and loss.
By speaking in a new voice, this book may have utilized an advantage by having Adam as the narrator because his character was already familiar to the readers of If I Stay. But the second book introduces a whole new Adam Wilde to the readers. Being left by Mia made him bitter and cynical towards music and success only made it worse because his celebrity enabled him to act out in the worst possible way. Knowing the reason behind Adam’s 360 degree turn makes audiences root for him and to a certain point, hate Mia because she caused everything. How could she, right?
But at the same time, they will not help but find it in their hearts to understand Mia’s actions because she had to survive and in doing so, had to make tough choices.
When he and Mia met by luck or coincidence in New York to spend a day reminiscent of Before Sunrise, the ending was already a foregone conclusion. The connection between these two characters was just as strong as it was in the first book and readers will sense that no matter how many cans of worms they open with revisiting the past, they would get past it.
The story was both touching and painful to read because this couple was so young to have gone through all of the things that they did, and for a while, it would seem that letting go would be the better choice for the pain to go away. This was the same dilemma that Mia agonized over in choosing whether to live for the future or die with her family, and this was the same question posed in the sequel – whether or not being together, despite the difficulties, is worth it after all.
I liked that the story spoke of dealing with loss, and how people go through grief in different ways. It touched on anger and guilt, and resolve. It spoke of family and friendship and the possibility of doing the wrong thing even when the intentions are pure, just because people are not perfect. It applauded a person’s resilience and ability to get past heartbreak and become whole again. And these are messages that connects with a lot of readers, myself included. In all essence, it was a more mature look at relationships and the pitfalls it entails, and because it already established a strong backstory in the first book, this gave the book the edge it needed to bring the franchise to a whole new level.
At the end of the day, Where She Went was not just about Mia and Adam’s love story, but rather, it was about moving on and finding peace and choosing happiness over misery — living life not for the past but for the future. And forgiveness, always about forgiveness of oneself and others. It had a sense of vulnerability about it that appeals to readers of all ages. All in all, a wonderful ending to their epic story. A great read, for sure.