Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Review: Where She Went

Where She Went is the follow-up novel to Gayle Forman's bestseller, If I Stay. There are several things that are different about this one. For starters, the story is narrated from a male perspective. The boyfriend tells his side of the story and Mia is presented in a pretty bad light for dumping him after he saw her through the horrible accident that claimed the lives of her entire family. The focus is primarily on his rise to fame, something he's not terribly comfortable with, and his confusion over Mia's severed ties.

Mia is at Julliard, the school of her dreams and Adam's band has risen to phenomenal heights. Yet, the past continues to haunt Adam and he pines for what once was. On a random weekend in New York City, Adam sees that Mia is performing at Carnegie Hall and so he buys a ticket and ends up being called backstage afterward. Mia then leads him on a bit of a wild goose chase as they avoid talking about the elephant in the room, her sudden silence and disconnection from Adam's life.

While I struggled with If I Stay, because the main character seems to imply that the decision for whether she will remain alive or not lies solely in her hands, this book made me equally disgruntled. Mia now holds a great deal of anger towards Adam because in her eyes, he made her stay. So, after a whole book devoted to the self-absorbed concept that we are the masters of our own fate, now there is a turn-around and someone else is to blame for Mia's continued existence when she would have rather died along with her family. Really? I couldn't get behind that. Moreover, I had a hard time with the happy ending. With all the angst presented at the outset, it seemed to gloss over the difficulties quickly and then everything was resolved and the conflicts were behind them.

I thought the author did a good job of capturing a male voice. I had no trouble staying absorbed in the story, even when it wandered aimlessly. The writing was good. But, in my final analysis, it isn't a YA novel I feel I can rave about as really outstanding, despite the accolades both books have received. Moreover, I'm pretty sure they won't make a follow-up film of Where She Went because it would fall short of the tear-jerker first movie.

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