(If I Stay #2)
By: Gayle Forman
April 5, 2011
Published by: Dutton Juvenile
Source: ARC gifted to reviewer
Genre: Contemporary YA
There are two authors whose writing is like music to my ears. Two authors who have the power to bring me to laughter or move me to tears with only a line or two. One of them is Maggie Stiefvater. The other is Gayle Forman. Gayle Forman's writing is among the most beautiful writing I have ever read. There is a musical, fluid, rhythmic quality to her writing that would be there even if music wasn't at the heart and soul of her story. Her writing is powerful, touching, heartbreaking. It is all-consuming in it's grasp on the reader, a grasp that is welcomed like a breath of fresh air.
All my annoyance melted. "You dumb-ass," I crooned, kissing her on the forehead. "You don't share me. You own me." (pg. 250/251 of Where She Went)
There are people in this world who discount the validity, the trueness and fullness, of high school love. But those of us who fell in high school know what these others do not. We know that a love like this, in its simplest and most innocent of forms, can grow into a love that will stand the test of time, provided the two who hold that love are willing to fight for it and nurture it along the way. Unfortunately, Mia and Adam have not been given that chance. Fate, destiny, Mother Nature, a freak accident on icy roads...whatever the cause was for the accident that took the lives of Mia's family, took along with it the chance for Mia and Adam to nurture their love. In If I Stay, Adam pleads with Mia to stay with him, promises her that he would do anything, including give her up, if she would only stay with him and not go with her family. Mia stays with Adam... only to leave him in a way almost as devastating as the accident that took her family.
You crossed the water, left me ashore
It killed me enough, but you wanted more
You blew up the bridge, a mad terrorist
Waved from your side, threw me a kiss
I started to follow but realized too late
There was nothing but air underneath my feet
“Bridge” Collateral Damage, Track 4
(from Where She Went)
Where She Went picks up three years after Mia left Adam. We learn quickly the toll that these long years have taken on Adam. While his band has skyrocketed to the top of the charts, he has hit rock bottom. Adam broke my heart from the very beginning of Where She Went. Not far into the book, Adam and Mia have a chance reunion that spirals into the decision of a life time. Over the course of their night together, we are taken back into their relationship before the accident. While If I Stay gave us flashbacks from Mia's point of view, Where She Went is told solely from Adam's point of view, and it is all the more gut-wrenching because of that. Because while Mia was recovering and re-building her life, Adam was drowning in his loss. In addition to the flashbacks of their time together, we also learn about their time apart... and Adam discovers why Mia left him the way she did. How can a relationship, a life, be built from tragedy? Can that crushed blossom of their high school love bloom and grow again? Will they take the second chance they seem to have been given? It is a decision they must come to together, one that kept me frantically turning pages, seeking the same answers Adam was seeking, and praying for a resolution that would mend the pieces of these broken hearts.
My favorite thing about this book (aside from Adam *swoon* and the beauty of the writing) was the way the chapters were divided by lyrics from the music Adam wrote after Mia left him. These lyrics are raw and powerful, setting the tone for each chapter, building that emotional connection between Adam and Mia and their music. Theirs is a story that will stay with me for a very long time, a story that I will think about over and over again. Of all the books released in 2011, if you only pick up one, make it Where She Went.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.