Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happiness is...a good book. (Summer Reading edition #39)

Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Pages: 264
Age Range: 14+
Published: 2011
Genre: YA/Realistic Fiction
Cover Score: ***
Overall Grade: ***
Rating: PG-13 (language including several f-bombs, sexual references, drinking/smoking)

**If you haven’t read If I Stay yet drop what you’re doing and read it, now. It’s beautifully written and poignant and highly superior to this follow-up book. Also, this review does contain spoilers (a giant one that you’ll probably have figured out about 5 seconds into reading), just FYI.

It’s been three years since Mia’s accident, her miraculous recovery and her decision to attend Julliard and walk out of Adam’s life forever.

Adam is living the high life. His band Shooting Star has become an overnight sensation, he’s making more money than he knows what to do with, touring the world and living in L.A. with his celebrity girlfriend Bryn Shraeder, the envy of everyone he comes in contact with.

But Adam is slowly falling apart. He constantly doubts himself, his band mates hardly speak to him, he’s moody and temperamental, he can’t sleep without a million prescription drugs in his system, he feels lost and alone and he is wracked with guilt that he didn’t do more to change the way things worked out with Mia.

The night before he’s to leave on tour he begins wandering NYC in search of some anonymity and anything to make him feel better. And that’s when he notices the sign announcing Mia performing that night at Carnegie Hall. He buys a ticket just to listen to her play but after the concert she summons him backstage and the two have embark on the night of their lives.

She convinces him to wander the streets with her, visiting some of her favorite haunts before they both leave on their respective tours to exotic places. He agrees hoping he’ll have the guts to confront her about why she left and how it devastated him.  They spend hours skirting around the issue, avoiding talking about her family or anything of real substance until it’s time for them to say goodbye. She’s ready to send him on his way and he loses it. He finally cries and screams and voices so many of the feelings he’s been holding onto for years along with the frustrations of his current situation. She confesses that she hadn’t planned to cut all ties but when she got to Julliard and everyone treated her like a fragile child she knew she needed to make some changes.

I won’t tell you how it ends but I will tell you that I was satisfied even though I didn’t love this book half as much as I loved the first one. It was full of emotion and hurt and frustration but I think those feelings didn’t translate as well for me as the issues of choice and reflection and hope did. There was love and loss in both novels but again I was more captivated by the way they were brought up in Mia’s story than in Adam’s. It was still a great book but I was waiting for it to reach that state of powerful emotion that I felt during If I Stay but it just never quite made it to that point for me.

Hand this book to teens struggling with a variety of emotions, loss, depression, grief etc. Or read it yourself, but not without reading If I Stay first.

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