I cant even remember where or when I heard about Gayle Formans Where She Went. It is the sequel to If I Stay, which seems to have been a pretty important book, given the way people talk about it.
If I Stay wasnt Rock Fiction. Or it didnt seem to be from its description. But Where She Went? Lets see: Adam Wilde is a rock star and Mia is a rising star on the cello.
While I call the genre Rock Fiction, I never insisted that every musical angle be rock and roll. Its just got to be about music. And lets face it: Rock Fiction sounds way better than Music Fiction. That makes this a double-header, right?
Not so fast. First, lets talk about the story. Adam is our leading man. When the book opens, hes wallowing in some sort of pity party and grief all rolled up into one pathetic, medicated package of angst and cliché. He is all but impossible to like.
Then, on a self-destruction escapade, he runs into Mia. Wow, what a coincidence! And she invites him back into her life even though shed walked out on him years before. Nevermind that it was part of some sick promise hed made without really meaning it and has never been able to get past.
And what do you know, but shes headed out on a farewell tour of all her private haunts around New York, so she brings Adam along. Its like someone flips a switch of his Xanax has finally kicked in because he is suddenly bearable.
I wanted to stop and ask him if he was serious. All this over a girl?
Yup. His entire world revolves around Mia. Her life revolves around herself and her need to escape her past. Which, of course, includes Adam. And, of course, cant be run away from.
Definitely not a plotline that Im excited to explore. The Adam in the beginning almost made me put the book down theres little I hate more than pathetic characters, and Adam is the most pathetic Ive seen in a long time. But Mia? I didnt like her, either. She dominates, dragging Adam around the city but still keeping her secrets, like they are the only glue holding them together. She comes off as controlling and manipulative, but everyone around her acts like shes more fragile than a robins egg.
Okay, so I dont have to like a book to be able to view it as Rock Fiction. This book is Rock Fiction from the get-go. Part of Adams misery has pushed him to the point where he is ready to quit his band. He hates them, and it seems like they hate him back. But, of course, hes the sole reason for their success, so theyre all stuck with each other. Except that Adam stays in a separate hotel and travels separately, but theyre all bothered by the fact that interviewers want only Adam and not anyone else in the band. How they all missed the fact that the media fixates on one member of a bandusually the frontmanand why their publicist didnt prep them, or why the band didnt choose another spokesman it makes no sense. Its a plot device, not something terribly realistic. Not to mention the interviewer who refuses to respect the rules. Hello? Think shed have a job after word of that got out? Assuming she got past the first question and some security dude or band employee didnt escort her out from the get-go.
Even though the book is about Adam and his relationship with his band in the early pages, its not until late in the book that this feels like Rock Fiction, even though we see glimpses of Adams rock and roll lifestyle all along. It just doesnt ring true. The bands success is too fast, too meteoric, too easy, but at the same time, theres the usual fictional contradiction of the really recognizable rocker who walks around New York City without a bodyguard, and the few people who do recognize Adam keep their distance.
What about Mia, the cellist? Theres no music in her, or very little even though were told the opposite. While we may see the musical side of Mia onstage, as soon as she puts her bow down, shes just another prima donna with an overly inflated sense of self, even if that sense of self is projected onto her.
Overall, this wasnt my favorite. Far from it. This is more of a book about angst and love and connecting and being down than it is Rock Fiction, even though music seems to be such a strong factor shaping the characters. It never stops seeming like a strong factor. It never crosses the line into being.
On to the next.
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
About three years ago, Mia and Adam went their separate ways - Mia off to Julliard and Adam off to live the life of a rock star.
Adam is about to start a European tour with Shooting Star. Since heading off on his own, he has attempted to push aside the emotions he still feels for Mia. Doing so has created a whole new set of problems. Adam is becoming cut off from his fellow band members, and the resulting pressure is becoming more than he can take. His days are filled with annoying interviews, meetings, and rehearsals that he only manages to get through with the help of prescription drugs and cigarettes. His equally famous girlfriend constantly berates him about living with a ghost from his past.
In New York City for a brief interview before leaving for the tour, Adam has an angry outburst due to questions from a nosy interviewer. Knowing he won't be popular, he takes off, avoiding his flight and, hopefully, the anger of his manager. His thoughts are filled with Mia, and when he stumbles across her name on the marquee for a Youth Concert series, he asks if any tickets remain. Fate intervenes and he finds himself sitting in the concert hall watching her perform.
After the concert he plans to slink back to his hotel and attempt to make up for his earlier bad behavior by contacting his manager. But on his way out of the concert hall, Adam is approached by an usher, asking him to follow him to Mia's dressing room.
What follows is a twenty-four-hour period of emotional ups and downs as both Adam and Mia confront the demons surrounding their complicated relationship. Adam relives the terrible months of watching Mia struggle to recover from the accident that killed her parents and her little brother. He knows he is the reason why Mia left. He had prayed for her recovery and promised he would let her go if that was what she wanted. For three lonely years, he has lived with the fact that that must have been her desire.
Can Adam and Mia forgive each other and themselves before each must leave to fulfill separate responsibilities on opposite sides of the world?
Author Gayle Forman takes readers back into the lives of Mia and Adam in her sequel to IF I STAY. With the focus more on Adam and his heartbreak both during and after Mia's family tragedy, Forman broadens the heartbreaking story in an emotional yet realistic direction. She explores the impact of death and separation as two people strive to overcome pain and connect with futures that satisfy them both.
I was actually very happy with how If I Stay ended. When I heard that Gayle Forman was coming out with a sequel to If I Stay, however, I was curious to see how it would turn out in Gayles talented hands. Turns out, its as good as it gets.
At first, Adam seems like a rather unlikable character. In many ways, he acts like a spoiled, ungrateful brat, being nasty to people and taking the whole I was dumped by my girlfriend thing too far to be sympathetic to. However, he is easy to sympathize with. A romantic situation that couldve easily been melodramatic is meticulously revealed to us in small, emotional bits, filling in the three years between the car crash and the present day. Everything in this book just progresses effortlessly: we can pretty much believe that these are two real people whose lives are simply being recorded down in this book.
In Adam and Mias story, we see the emotional complexity that goes into a relationship rife with tragedy and change. Why do people act the way they do? How can what one person does or thinks about their relationship seem so irrational to their partner? WHERE SHE WENT is the best book Ive read that explores these subtleties. Its deep, and yet its not preachy, or so deep as to be unrelatable.
WHERE SHE WENT is, simply put, so, so good. Its beautiful without being over the top, memorable without being unrealistic. If you read and loved If I Stay, then this sequel is an absolute must-read, if simply for the fact that you will get more of Adam and Mia. And if you havent read If I Stay yet, I think I will have to come after you and bug you until you do.