A book written in first person can be tricky—if I don’t trust what the narrator says happens then the story never really sucks me in. Despite all the rave reviews, that’s how I felt about Gayle Forman’s If I Stay . The narrator is Mia, a 17-year-old very talented cellist, whose life is ripped apart after a horrific accident. Her family's car is struck, and her mother, father, and only sibling, her younger brother, are killed. She finds herself standing outside of her body trying desperately to comprehend what happened. She is in a coma, suspended between life and death. As her body lies mangled in the hospital and her extended family and friends rally to her side, she reviews her life and comes to realize that it's up to her to choose whether to stay or leave.
In Where She Went, Forman decides to do what I often wish authors would do—she tells the rest of the story (overlapping with the first) and this time, we have Mia’s boyfriend Adam as narrator. His story picks up three years later and Adam’s life has both hit the big time and fallen completely to ruins. After the car accident that nearly killed Mia and the choices she made upon recovery (life=yes, Adam=no), he has poured all his heartbreak into songwriting, gotten the fame he always wanted, and become a pill-popping, angst-ridden shadow of his former self. The emotion in his story seems so much more genuine, rawer and angry, yet he still can look at himself and laugh. Ironically enough, from his perspective I learned to like and understand Mia more as well. He is in New York, waiting for his band’s first big tour or Europe, when he sees an advertisement for Mia's recital and decides to go, just so he can see her one more time. I think I’ve given you enough spoilers for one post, so you will just have to read what Adam and Mia go through in the next twenty four hours yourself!