Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where She Went

Did you read If I Stay by Gayle Forman? And did you just love it? If you answered 'yes' and 'yes" to these two questions, then you need to run to the library and pick up Gayle Forman's latest book, Where She Went. In the first book, high school senior, Mia, has been in a terrible car accident that claimed the lives of both her parents, and put her younger brother and herself in critical condition in the hospital. While her body lies in a coma, Mia's "spirit," for lack of a better word, hovers above the scene, observing her friends and remaining family who desperately try to reach her in the Intensive Care unit where Mia's traumatized body undergoes frantic attempts by hospial staff to revive it. Mia, in spirit, must decide--in the famous words of The Clash--should I stay or should I go now? Is life worth living without her beloved family? The novel is poignant, a tear-jerker, and a page turner. And so is Where She Went. But in case you haven't read the first book------------------------------------------

*********SPOILER SPACE***********************

Mia decides to stay--after her boyfriend, a musician like Mia, plays her a cello concerto, reminding Mia of her gift for music and of the people left in her life to love. He also makes her a promise that if she lives, he won't ask anything else of her; he will even let her go, just so long as she lives.

And Mia leaves him. Without a word, without an explanation, after Mia recuperates and goes off to her scholarship at Juilliard, she abandons Adam, an action that throws him into a terrible depression. Adam quits his band, Shooting Star, just as they're beginning to get widespread notice from record labels. Adam only climbs out of his depression by writing some of the angriest, rawest music of his life---the songs that skyrocket the reformed Shooting Star to insane celebrity status. As the book opens, Adam Wilde cannot walk down the streets without being mobbed. He's an MTV icon, known for his moodiness, called "the Wilde man." He's dating a beautiful and popular movie actress, Bryn, and his relationship with her only accelerates his fame. Adam seems to have it all--celebrity, money, a movie star girlfriend--but the good life isn't what it seems. A chasm has opened between him and his band members. They rarely speak and the alienation has gotten so bad that they book separate hotels from Adam while on tour. Adam hates his celebrity. He suffers panic attacks, and every day his face and Bryn's are on the covers of tabloids. His relationship with Bryn is fraught with tension because a ghost stands between them--the ghost of the girl who lived. Adam has never forgotten or gotten over Mia. Bryn knows it and is insanely jealous. Adam tries to love Bryn but can't. Now he's facing months on the road touring and he's closer than anyone knows to an utter breakdown.

And then he sees a poster in New York and realizes that Mia, who has gained her own fame in the music world, is playing cello that night in the city. Adam goes to see her play and the two of them meet face-to-face after years of silence. Finally, Adam has a chance to ask Mia "where she went," and, most importantly, why she left.

Another amazing, heart-wrenching read from an incredible author. You will find yourself thinking about these characters every time you have to put down the book for awhile, not to mention after you finish the last page. I don't know how Gayle Forman does it. These people seem so real. Their conflicts are so utterly believable. There are no easy ways out in her plotting, and just like in real life, there are no easy ways out for her characters.

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