Saturday, August 9, 2014

Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

Book Description:

It's been three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life.

And three years he's spent wondering why.

When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.

Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good - or can you really have a second chance at first love?

My Thoughts:
It's official: I'm a Gayle Forman fan. I love how her novels are so character-driven. Honestly, not a lot happens in this novel. If I were to outline the concrete actions in this book it would look a lot like this:

-Adam talks to manager
-Adam records a guitar track
-Adam attends cello concert
-Adam meets up with Mia
-Adam and Mia walk around New York, talking
-A lot more talking and introspection

In the hands of a less capable writer that outline would be dead-boring. Clearly, Forman relies on her characters to move the story along rather than circumstantial or outward conflict. And it works. Oh, man, does it work. Each character is so naturally believable. How Forman can reach into a person's soul and put it into words is just... I mean... Seriously, how does she do that?!? It's incredible.

Told from Adam's perspective this time, as opposed to Mia's from If I Stay, we feel everything he feels in the most I-have-totally-felt-that-way-too kind of way. His emotional wreckage is so believable. I completely buy into his reactions. Everything he does makes perfect Adam-sense and I can see his layers, his depth. Forman manages to give everyone depth. Even the random jogger--who had maybe two paragraphs--Adam borrows an iPod from had depth! It's just so unexpected in YA literature. We need more of that.

Forman employs none of the common YA gimmicks we've come to see in just about every other novel; There are no love scenes that are awkwardly/abruptly/conveniently brought to an end by an outside source. There is sort of a love triangle but not really; It's not there for competition and conflict so much as character growth and backstory. There's no over-protective figure telling Adam or Mia to stay away from the other. This book is gimmick-less. It just is. These things could happen to normal people.

And, now that I think about it, there was this tiny little part of the book where Adam is disappointed because he thought Mia had been sleeping with someone else, while he, himself, had been with dozens of girls since Mia. And I couldn't help but think how that fed into the whole macho mentality; Men can and should have as many sexual conquests as possible while women are to remain as chaste as possible. Such a double standard. I hate it. Especially when perpetuated by another woman. And while I am rather a prude personally, I don't actually care which way the pendulum swings as long as men and women are on the same side of it. Either everyone should be chaste or everyone should be able to sleep with as many people as they want without social stigma. I would prefer the former but equality is all I ask.

Other than that my only real beef with the book is that I feel like Forman is giving people false hope, much like she did in Just One Day. Yeah, many people want closure from past relationships. Or want to reunite with former loves. But having either of those things is just so unrealistic. I don't think most people get this kind of closure. Or a second chance. Life just isn't like that. It's nice to read about, giving a certain kind of satisfaction to see all the questions answered and resolved but... no. In that respect this book could almost be considered fantasy.

Sexual Content: Moderate
Language: Heavy
Violence: Mild
Drugs/Alcohol: Moderate

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