I just recently read Where She Went by Gayle Forman, which is the sequel to If I Stay. I figure it wouldn’t be fair just to write a review of the sequel, so this post is a two in one – how exciting! Also, if you haven’t read the sequel, make sure to stop reading where it says quite boldly and clearly to stop reading.
I also want to say that I have not, and am not planning to in the near future, seen the movie adaptation of If I Stay. It was a book that I really enjoyed and I am not sure that the movie does it justice. If you think differently, comment below and maybe I’ll give it a chance!
If I Stay is one of those books that will stay with you for a long time after reading it. This novel follows Mia Hall, whose family has just been in a horrific car crash. Mia then has an out-of-body experience where she is able to relieve past moments in her life and decide whether to stay alive or to choose death (and presumably be reunited with her family).
I spent the majority of this book sobbing. Family stories are near and dear to my heart and never fail to make me cry. Forman describes every scene in such vivid detail, I felt like I was alongside Mia as she waded through intimate moments in her life. My heart ached after reading this book. I especially love the ending, which I won’t give away.
This is definitely not a light read and I wouldn’t suggest reading it in public because it’s more suited to a curl up under the covers with a box of tissues situation. But it is definitely worth a read if you’re looking for something more serious that will touch your heart and make you think.
OKAY SO THIS IS WHERE YOU’RE GOING TO WANT TO STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE SEQUEL AND DON’T WANT SPOILERS. SERIOUSLY. DON’T READ ANY FURTHER. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
I didn’t even know that Where She Went existed until months after I read If I Stay, which I see now as a good thing. It gave me enough time to get over the emotions I felt while reading If I Stay and made room for the new emotions that came along with the sequel. So, if you want my advice, I would wait some time after reading If I Stay and then read Where She Went, if you want.
Personally, I don’t think that there needed to be a sequel to If I Stay. Part of the beauty of If I Stay was that so much was left unsaid, and you got to draw your own conclusions. And I know that cliffhangers make people crazy (myself included), but this time, I enjoyed not knowing 100% what happened to Mia at the end of If I Stay. It added to the power of the book. That being said, Where She Went was a good book, albeit a little unnecessary.
Where She Went picks up three years after the accident that killed Mia’s family and left her in a coma. This time, the novel follows the story of Adam, Mia’s boyfriend from the first novel. In the beginning of Where She Went, the readers learn that Adam’s band has made it big and they are about to start a world tour. We also learn that Mia is alive (!!!) and will be playing at Carnegie Hall, which we can assume means she has made a full recovery.
Sadly (but not too surprisingly), Mia and Adam have not spoken in about three years, since she left for Julliard. Adam decides to see her show at Carnegie Hall, hoping that hearing her play will be enough to ease the pain of the past three years, but (shockingly) it is not. Adam and Mia then set off on a one-night tour of New York City, where old wounds are opened and this couple struggles to find closure.
Unlike If I Stay, Where She Went did not make me cry like a baby. It was not absent of feeling, but it did not in any way pack the same punch as the first book. I would say it’s definitely worth a read if you like closure and want to get a little deeper into Adam’s world. It’s well-written, beautifully descriptive, and makes you feel good at the end.