Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Review: Where She Went

Okay, another departure from AAPI Heritage Month. No worries, the next post will be another book rec, and it'll be here Friday, oh yes. Don't miss out. I fucking love this book. It's a surprise!

Just finished WHERE SHE WENT. First of all, just look at that goddamn cover. How freaking gorgeous is it? I'm so happy I went out and bought this book. IF I STAY blew my mind, but WHERE SHE WENT is forever on my list of favorites.

Blurb — 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 Juilliard'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.

I should stop calling these book reviews. They're clearly just me, going on disjointed rants.

Review — All right, it sounds counterintuitive, wrong even, to say that WHERE SHE WENT was more emotional for me than IF I STAY. I mean, the first book was the trauma of losing your whole family and lying there on the verge of death in a hospital, choosing whether it's worth it or not to live, and this. What is this? This is about some emo kid's broken heart, and I'm sitting here like it's the saddest thing ever. Really wrong. This is not correct, I'm sure. Maybe, though, it's like real life, where you don't get the full impact of grief until after the fact. When Mia was dying, I was on the edge of my seat, hoping she would live, fearing she would die. I didn't have time to be sad. But if WHERE SHE WENT does anything well, it's illustrating that grief doesn't go away after it happens. It's all about that raw, emotional impact, and yeah, it packs a punch.

This book sure doesn't suffer from sequel-itis. In fact, it uses its status as a sequel to its advantage. The characters in the original were superbly drawn, and that's what made it so relatable, because you felt like you knew the family, you knew Mia and Adam. It's what made you care. But you go a step further here. The choice to switch the POV to Adam in the sequel was one of the most masterful decisions that went into this book. The adjusted lens allowed you as a reader to experience another facet of each of the characters. I came out of this book knowing Adam a lot better and actually loving Mia. Because I wasn't seeing the family scenes from her perspective, I finally witnessed her shyness, her perpetual sense of not-belonging. It was like IF I STAY was my first impression of Mia, a girl who, yeah, lay on the better side of average and I could probably come to like. I got to know her in the sequel, and I will forever be grateful that Gayle Forman gave me that chance.

No equivocation here: I liked this book better than the first, by a long shot. I'm cheap, so I'm so happy to be able to tell you, the hardcover was worth it.

I am always reading while I'm writing, so there are many, many books that go into my own. It's like a secret that I have, which books shine through which passages of my manuscript. There are a lot; completely unrelated genres, voices that are miles apart. But I stopped writing to finish reading this book. I'm definitely hoping that if I can get one thing out of it, it's this incandescent ability to convey grief.

Both books are highly recommended, so if you haven't read them already, what are you waiting for?

1 comment:

  1. Ah! Okay, this is so the next book I'm buying! I LOVED If I Stay (but I liked the original hardcover for that one with the pink flower better than the redesign that looks more like the cover for Where She Went), so I've been meaning to read Where She Went. It just wasn't a pressing need, you know.

    Anyway, thanks for the review! You just bumped this book up to the top of my TBR. :D