On rare and beautiful occasions, an experience can change the way you see everything. The experience can be so powerful that it changes your life. Where She Went by Gayle Forman captures that moment.
Where She Went picks up two years after If I Stay. Mia, after recuperating from a car crash that killed her family, dumps Adam with no explanation, practically with no words. Adam uses the pain and heartbreak to create an album that shoots him into stardom. A new girlfriend, a new life, a new Adam. But there are parts of his old world that haunt him wherever he goes.
On a visit to New York City, Adam stops by Mia’s concert at Carnegie Hall. A rising new cellist, Mia is reaching a stardom of her own. She is barely recognizable, but deep down she is the girl that Adam loved. The girl that left him with wounds too deep to be repaired. Yet, Mia shows no sign of the damage she walked away from after the accident. She is a new Mia with a new life that Adam is not a part of. Can Adam face his Mia-less future? Or will he suffer even more heartbreak?
Gayle Forman alternates between memories and reality, giving the reader a glimpse of every aspect of each character. In fact, these moments are so impeccably real that it is hard to believe this is a work of fiction. Gayle Forman’s ability to transport the reader into Adam’s mind is awe-inspiring. He narrates the novel with a harsh outer shell. As we watch his protective layer melt away, the reader sees the way Adam grows and changes through Gayle Forman’s lyrical and beautiful language.
At the heart of Where She Went and If I Stay, there is music. Truly, these books prove that music is all around us. It is in conversations between strangers on trains. It is in rustling leaves and laughing friends. It is in the air we breathe and hearts that beat. Music connects people in a way that nothing else can. Music has the power to heal and excite and love.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman draws a vivid portrait of how breakable the heart is. But, as much as it reveals despair, it also elicits hope. It is not human nature to give up on our dreams. We are far too stubborn and strong-willed. Where She Went is a beautiful testament to the strength of the human soul, the magic of music, and the power to look beyond the past and into a brighter future.
Victoria Testa lives in New York City but is a beach bum at heart. When not writing or reading, she can be found surfing, swimming, and singing!