“Where She Went” by Gayle Forman is the sequel to “If I Stay” which follows Mia after she has been in a terrible car accident that killed her family. She is in a coma and has to make a decision – either move on into the unknown, or stay and fight for her life. It was a very powerful book and I highly enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from the sequel, and since I avoid reading book synopsizes I did not know until I opened the book that this story is told from Adam’s perspective. He was Mia’s boyfriend in “If I Stay” and in “Where She Went” we get to see how such a powerful event affected him.
“I have the kind of life a lot of people would probably sell a kidney to just experience a bit of. But still, I find the need to remind myself of the temporariness of a day, to reassure myself that I got through yesterday, I’ll get through today.” (Where She Went, pg 3). I thought this was a pretty depressing way to start a book, but I didn’t expect the sequel to a book where a girl loses her entire family to start off full of rainbows. It took me a bit to realize that this wasn’t Mia’s reflection and that the book wasn’t focused around her. I liked the fact that she was still a character in the novel, but she wasn’t the main one. Through Adam’s perspective, we are able to experience the aftermath of what an event like that does to a person.
“Where She Went” focused a lot on grief and how it is different for everyone. I loved this quote: “After all, I lost them, too. Except even back then, it had been different, like there’d been a barrier. That’s the thing you never expect about grieving, what a competition it is. Because no matter how important they’d been to me, no matter how sorry people told me they were, Denny and Kat and Teddy weren’t my family, and suddenly that distinction had mattered.” (Where She Went, pg 185). I remember the first death that really changed me. It was an acquaintance from school and he died in a car accident and every year in late April, I think about this guy and his family. But he wasn’t a close friend and it was almost like it wasn’t a death I was allowed to grieve. I think that Gayle Forman illustrates well how grief doesn’t only affect the core family. Having to live in a world where someone you loved is no longer alive is tremendously difficult.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, it was a great read. I admire Gayle Forman’s writing and I look forward to reading more of her work. The language in her books isn’t overly complex, but the heaviness of what she writes about makes you really stop and think while reading. I think that Forman’s books would appeal to quite a large audience. “Where She Went” is so relatable, I think anyone that has had their life touched by death would appreciate this book.