Where She Went  - Gayle Forman “Quitting’s not hard. Deciding to quit is hard. Once you make that mental leap, the rest is easy.”

Three years have passed since the tragedy in If I Stay. Adam and Mia are no longer together. Adam is a rock star; Mia a rising star on the classical music scene. On a particular Friday the 13th, after a rough interview, Adam happens to see one of Mia's performances. That leads to them reuniting. But can anything repair a broken heart?

If I had to say my favorite thing about this novel, it would be the depth and complexities of emotion. Because this book is very different from many novels: it isn't about the wonderful giddiness that comes with falling in love. It is about rediscovering love, about breaking up, about moving on, about closure.

Adam is our protagonist this time around, which threw me for a loop (I had read about it when I first saw reviews for this, but then, as I am apt to do, promptly forgot). So instead of seeing Mia and her feelings in the aftermath of last book, we get to see how the breakup affects the OTHER person (a good move, as I felt that Mia's feelings were perfectly explored last book). Which, in Adam's case, isn't well. He curls into a ball at his parents' place for three months. He holds people at a distance, tries to bury the incident, and takes up smoking. While I don't approve of the 3 month coma he goes into (I didn't think it was appropriate for Bella in New Moon and I'm not going to be fickle and say it's okay if a guy does that), I do think that you can feel the depth of his emotion, his pain over the break up, the constant wondering "Why? What did I do?"

The other major character is, of course, Mia. As you look at her through Adam's eyes, she starts out as an enigma. Does she truly hate him, as Adam suspects, or are your Reader Senses tingling? I won't delve too much into what it turns out she feels, as that would spoil the novel, but what I will say is: Adam learns that his assumptions aren't 100% true. And I really liked that. I really liked that Mia turned out to be different than the conclusions Adam jumped to. Because it is all too easy for an author to have her characters immediately make the correct assumption--which, I think everyone knows how rare THAT happens in real life.

When the big conversation finally appears, I was very impressed at the maturity, the intensity, and the complexity. This isn't some silly Big Misunderstanding where the girl thinks the guy doesn't love her and the guy thinks the girl is a slut. This is a misunderstanding on a far more realistic and personal level. These are two adults that have been to hell and back. These are two people still coping with a tragedy--each one affected differently. It is two people that have been hurt by the other, albeit unintentionally. It is two people trying to figure out how to associate with the other after years of being apart--physically, emotionally, psychologically. It is beautiful and heart-rending at the same time.

Last time, I got a little nitpicky about the Oregon setting and how vague it seemed. Well, I thought Forman made New York come to life. I could almost see the glittering lights, the tall skyscrapers, smell the oceans and the dingy subway cars. It was amazing.

My only real complaint is: I didn't like how Adam became basically comatose for 3 months in the aftermath of his breakup with Mia. I know it seems petty, but it just bugged me, and since I critiqued Bella in "New Moon" pretty harshly for doing the exact same thing, I just wouldn't feel good if I gave this a pass. Even though, in this book's defense, Adam's retreat was much better written. His friends resent his retreat. His parents are disappointed in him. He gets out of his funk without having to resort to trying to commit suicide. Adam is coping with the loss of a girlfriend and a monumental tragedy--and guilt over a vow he made. And, let's face it, Forman is a far superior writer to Stephenie Meyer and can pull it off better.

I tore through this book is a little over a day (please, give the girl a medal!! :) ). Hell, the book made it almost impossible for me to sleep, even when I finished it! I couldn't get the themes and elements out of my head. Forman is truly a master writer. She wields words in a beautiful way, creates deep, intense emotions that promise to rock your world. I really enjoyed this book, probably the same as "If I Stay", and am eagerly anticipating her next novel.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
The swearing is mostly limited to "da**" and "he**", with a few choice f-bombs thrown in at key points.
Adam lives the life of a rocker; he has "played the field" and is currently in a relationship with a steady girlfriend. Meanwhile, it is hinted that Mia might have been having a sexual relationship with a conductor. Two characters have sex, though it is pretty tastefully written.
The most violent thing that happens in the book is references to the accident in the previous book and Adam getting angry (no punching, hitting, biting, kicking, etc. though).