Sunday, May 1, 2011

If I Stay/Where She Went Review

I literally just finished Where She Went by Gayle Forman. My eyes are probably still red from crying. I took a minute to let the whole thing sink in, and then I felt the need to write about it.

First off, I only read If I Stay about a week ago. I’m always late jumping on the bandwagon with books. I have a problem choosing something to read based on other people’s suggestions, because I always have so many things I’ve picked out myself to read. Also, I think it may be because I have zero desire to see 90% of the movies that everyone else I know are dying to see. I just feel like the kinds of movies that are popular now are dumb. But what I’m starting to realize is that when it comes to books, people are smarter. Duh.

The one automatic aversion I had to reading If I Stay was the supernatural element. I love contemporary fiction; however I still read some paranormal because I can accept that it’s fantasy and just enjoy the world that’s created. But with this book, it’s the real world except I’m supposed to accept that the entire thing is narrated by an unconscious girl. And even if I say it’s only a story and can go along with it, the book’s subject matter is still dealing with an out-of-body experience that I don’t believe people experience. So how can anyone relate?

Of course, once I got over this and actually read it, I loved it. Although, I didn’t think it was quite as amazing as everyone has said. I enjoyed the narration and the story, but I guess I felt like something was missing that could have made the story better. Or it was too abrupt at the end. I’m not sure. But I thought the mixing of present scenes and memories was wonderful. Mia and Adam’s relationship was incredible. The scene where they are pretending to play one another like their instruments…. I couldn’t breathe. That was hotter than any actual sex scene I’ve ever read. It’s the kind of thing that makes me insanely jealous that I didn’t think to write it.

And, this should go without saying, but the novel was so emotional. I feel like any type of entertainment that can make you cry is truly magical. Because the main purpose of books/movies/TV/music should be entertainment. Distraction. Fun. So when someone creates something fictional that people can relate to so deeply that it makes them cry either out of happiness or sadness, you know that they’ve captured a genuine piece of real life.

Now the thing about the sequel, Where She Went… I thought it was a thousand times more amazing. Once the story got going, I felt like I was holding my breath through the next 200 pages until the end. First, there’s nothing supernatural. Second, I loooove male POV’s in YA. Third, the majority of the book takes place during one night. There was still the mixing of present scenes and memories like in If I Stay. But the whole story felt more immediate. Urgent. Especially the second half.

Also, it was a thousand times sadder. You would think that there is nothing sadder than the life or death aspect of If I Stay. And I’m certainly not going to suggest that a breakup is worse than someone dying. It’s just that for the most part, we have no control over death. For Adam, in this story, just simply living was almost too hard for him to do. He was so broken. And my heart broke for him. The love of his life left him, and then years later he has to spend time with her. And it feels like the greatest gift and the worse punishment at the same time. Now that’s something that I’m sure people can relate to. I know I can. It’s raw emotion. And Gayle captures it all so honestly. There was more than one moment toward the end where I cried. Because I knew exactly what the characters were feeling before Adam narrated it. When an author writes about something that people can relate to, and does it well, it’s almost like you can leave so much unsaid. The reader gets it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I got this book. Really, it felt more like the book got me. That’s magic. How many stars are there in the sky? Because that’s what I’m rating Where She Went.


  1. Great review! I've been meaning to read If I Stay for ages now. I'll have to get on that :)

  2. Great review. I loved both books, although I think I hated If I Stay as much as I loved it. Where She Went was amazing. I'm planning on doing my review this week. I had to let it digest...