A year and a half ago I read a book called “If I Stay” by Gayle Foreman. The story focused on one of life’s most daunting decisions…move on in death, or return to a shatter world. The book was sad, and beautiful, and taught a very difficult lesson. Cherish the ones that you love, hold them dear and not take advantage of their existence, because you never know when that predicted existence may be quickly taken from you.
“If I Stay” (though abruptly finished) was a complete story, so when I found out that Ms. Foreman decided to write a follow-up I was confused. However, when I finally got around to reading “Where She Went” I understood immediately why she had.
(If you have NOT read “If I Stay” (and plan to) Please stop reading. AKA… there are spoilers)
It has been three years since Mia’s crash. Three horrible, unforgiveable, excruciating years, but not in the way that you would think. Things with Mia are just fine. Adam (her boyfriend at the time of the crash) on the other hand is self destructing. After being handing marching orders by Mia, Adam is forced to face his harsh (tabloid driven) life without the comfort of the only person who understands him, and being uncertain as to how to handle things, he resorts to bitterness and booze. With his world crumbling around him, and memories flooding his every thought, Adam decides to take a break. Just a quick one really, a walk through the park, but when he stumbles upon a flyer announcing Mia’s next concert he suddenly realizes his past will forever haunt his future unless he confronts it. With only one night left ahead of him to make amends or set her free for good Adam goes for it. Will Mia ever fully understand what she did to him? Will seeing her help or hinder Adams ability to let go, and will the reality of life keep them from saying the things they should have said three years ago?
While I enjoyed “If I Stay” I thought “Where She Went” blew it out of the water. The choice to abandon Mia as the main character and to focus on Adam was heartbreaking but (I think) a wise decision. In “If I Stay” we are introduced to Adam as Mia “everything”. The reason she chose to return to her life. So returning to the story three years later only to find out that Adam and Mia are no longer together was (in some parts) physically painful. The story (like the first) was written with a handful of flashbacks, but the means of communication between the two were drastically different. While Mia is a musician, she is not a songwriter like Adam, and when Foreman chose to change her lead character, the ability witness pain through lyrics, and poetic inner dialogue suddenly became available. It is important to note (though my love for the book is telling me not to) that the story is a bit slow in places, and I think there was a perfect moment (about 1 chapter from the end) that would have served as a better ending, but overall…a very good read for someone who doesn’t mind emotional journeys.
Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Life is too short to be saddled with half truths. If you are unsure…ask.
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