Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

I read these two books back to back- in a matter of about 4 hours- so I'm going to throw a twofer at you instead of breaking them up into two seperate posts.

If I Stay
By: Gayle Forman
Author Website
Twitter: @gayleforman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands

Where She Went
Release Date: April 5, 2011
ARC Review (No Spoilers)

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 Julliard'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

As I said- I read these back to back so I'm going to review them in one big review- but I will avoid Spoilers for Where She Went as it's not officially released until April.

These books were beautiful. It's really as simple as that. Alot of books are fun to read, or ad or funny, but it's not often that you come across a beautifully written book. I think both If I Stay and Where She Went fall into that catagory. The hardest part about reading If I Stay was knowing what was going to happen, but not knowing how. I don't mean her final decision, but knowing that sometime early in the story she would die and have to choose whether to stay or whether to go. That anticipation was torture. Waiting to see how it would happen, who else would survive. I was glad to be done with that part early. It left the rest of the book for discovering Mia, Adam, her family and friends and all the people that come into her life for that brief moment when she has to choose. It was a portrait of a family. Full of love and devastated by an accident that shouldn't have happened.

If I Stay was written from Mia's perpective and Where She Went from Adam's, but the most important thing about the way it was written was the ability to show you a lifetime of moments from the past, while covering just one day in the present. In If I Stay we see Mia's memories, of her family, of meeting Adam, falling in love. We see her whole life and are drawn in as she reminisces and tries to decide what she should do. The moments in If I Stay where Adam is trying to reach her, but physically and spiritually are touching. I teared up alot and that doesn't happen often.

As far as Where She Went, like I said I will avoid spoilers here, but will probably come back in April and really review this book in depth. For know I'll just say that, in my opinion, Where She Went was like the worlds best epilogue. Let me explain. If I Stay ended where it should have. It could have stood on it's own. It didn't need a sequel (although I am SO glad there is one!). In many books like that we get an Epilogue that jumps ahead a few years, gives us a glimpse of where our charecter are and then end. I HATE epilogues. It seems to simple to me. Where She Went starts out with a traditional epilogue style. 3 years have past, Mia is in New York playing Cello and Adam is living in LA, touring with Shooting Star and in a downward spiral since Mia walked out of his life. Most epilogues would just leave it at that (although I admit, most epilogues are happier). Where She Went then delves into the past again, this time from Adam's perpective. How they met, how he delt with the accident and the guilt he feels about losing Mia. When a chance meeting in NYC brings them together we see their whole relationship rehashed, in memories, in conversations and in actions as they spend one last night together before they are both to leave on tour.

It's cheesy to say that it is the journey, but for these books, these charecters, I truly think it is. Until the very end I was unsure where Mia and Adam would end up. I almost didn't care. I just wanted them to heal. They were getting to see eachother, to discuss it all, to see eachother's pain and hurt that was still there 3 years after the accident. It's easy to ignore the pain you can cause someone when you don't have to see eachother, but when they are together again they are forced to face the pain and fear. It's great to see. It seemed so real to me, and again, I teared up while reading Where She Went. (Gayle Forman is 2 for 2 for making me cry!)

Before this gets too super-lengthy (which given how much I loved it, it has the possibility of getting) I will try to wrap it up. These books are must reads. Be ready to have your heart ripped out (several times) and then have it healed right along with Mia and Adam's. Forman draws you in and you go on a journey with Mia and Adam over the course of the 2 books. If you haven't read If I Stay yet, get on it, and then start counting down the days to Where She Went.



  1. I really want to read these two books! Glad to hear you liked them!

  2. I loved both books as well! Where She Went doesn't have the emotional impact of If I Stay (for obvious reasons... The decision to be together or not is not as big as the decision to live or not) but I love GF writing. Her characters are brilliant and both books are stunning!

  3. Thanks for your review !! I had this book for Christmas but I haven't read it yet .. and I definitely should =)

  4. Wow, four hours!

    Excellent review. If I didn't have these on my TBR list already I would definitely have to add them now =)