Die deutsche Rezension findet ihr hier
Mia stayed, but not with Adam. The accident happened years ago, as did Mia breaking up with him. There isn’t much left of the Adam we got to know earlier. Instead, he’s estranged from the band and dependent on calming medicine – despite his success with his music, life is tearing him down. Then there is this one night when he meets again the woman who never told him why she left him. They have one night to talk to each other and maybe answer some of the questions they both have – but can it truly be enough?
Surely, I haven’t been the only one who was sceptical when the sequel to the much praised “If I Stay” was announced. Not only did I worry that the second book wouldn’t be as good as the first one, but its very existence meant trouble for the protagonists I wished only the best for. When I read the blurb for the very first time, I felt heartbroken. Mia and Adam aren’t together any longer? Why? I had hoped for a better future for both of them, and – seeing as things were back then – this meant a future together to me. This might explain why it took me nearly two years to finally pick up this book.
On a formal basis, “Where She Went” works much like “If I Stay”. The story starts rather quickly, though the accident happened much earlier and it takes some more pages for Adam to meet Mia. We are in the present, but thanks to numerous (though never too many) flashbacks we get to know what happened in the past – partly this includes Mia’s and Adam’s shared past before the accident, but also the time after Mia woke up, as well as the time Adam spent alone again. Step by step, it is revealed what happened back then, why Adam has such problems with the other band members despite all of them being very close, and also why Mia left Adam.
It’s the book’s big question, which glued me to the pages the whole time. I won’t lie: my heart bled for Adam. Whether it’s always justified or not, he suffers and that rather obviously. Not only because of Mia, though her absence is linked to many of his problems and one of the main reasons for his grief and anger. We quickly get an idea as of why she acted that way, and I can say at least for myself that I could understand it, in a way, before she explained it. It’s the how I felt uncomfortable with, and that hasn’t changed yet. “Where She Went” highlights something which was known before but has never been stressed that much: Adam lost Mias’s family, too. Gayle Forman never belittles Mia’s loss, but she shows that such tragedies can scar other people just as much. We as readers already get an idea of it: we only know the Halls from one book, but as soon as there is only a mention of Ted we start mourning all over again. After all, a “good” ending doesn’t mean that everything will get better. You have to work for that and it takes time and insight – still, there is no guarantee that it will work in the end.
You see: Gayle Forman managed again to upset me, to bring tears into my eyes, to make me feel with the characters and to let me hope – not as much as she did in “If I Stay”, but enough so I don’t regret reading the sequel the least bit. The only negative I can say about it concerns the German translation: it seemed adequate, being Adam’s voice, though I never compared it to the original. However, the lyrics at the beginning of some of the chapters sound ridiculous in German – which doesn’t change the fact that I would very much like to hear Adam’s songs.
With “Where She Went”, Gayle Forman wrote a good though not as outstanding sequel to “If I Stay”. All in all, it’s the search for answers – what happened, why things are the way they are. If you are keenly interested in those, you’ll have problems to stop reading.