I admit, when I first heard that Gayle Forman was writing a sequel to her lovely If I Stay, I was not on board. If I Stay is, in many ways, an unbelievably good book. The description of the novel evokes more Lifetime movie than intelligent, character-driven story, but If I Stay is exactly that. Mia, her boyfriend and her family felt so real to me and the story of their tragic car accident was not simply a conceit to manipulate the reader, but rather a storytelling device that allows the readers to explore the deepest grief possible with Mia.
But could Gayle Forman really pull that off twice? I should have had more faith in her, because Where She Went is just as good as If I Stay, and sometimes, it’s better. At this point, if you have not read If I Stay, I suggest you stop now. There will be unavoidable spoilers for If I Stay in this review. Where She Went picks up three years after Mia’s accident. Instead of being narrated by Mia, Where She Went is narrated by her boyfriend Adam, a brilliant move. Adam has become a famous rock musician and Mia a famous cellist, but they are no longer together. While Adam originally poured all of his grief and emotion into writing a best-selling record, now he’s being forced to face the reality of what happened between him and Mia.
Where She Went takes place over one night and there are plenty of coincidences. There are many plot points, from the fame that Mia and Adam have found to their coincidental run-in, that are unbelievable, but I’m not really sure that’s the point. The point is not that Forman is telling a believable story plot-wise, but rather an emotionally realistic story. There is not an easy happy ending in either If I Stay or Where She Went, life is not that simple. Mia and Adam both deal and speak of grief in a way that feels so real and palpable. I am consistently amazed by what Forman can do as a writer and storyteller. When you are reading it, Forman makes you feel it and that is the mark of a talented writer.
So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve read everything else
There are plenty of reviews of this around the web, so please check out the book blog search engine to see more!
2009 is on its way out and 2010 is about to usher itself into the world. Things changed a lot in 2009, in the world and in my life and I know that the coming months and 2010 are only going to bring more changes. One of the biggest changes in my life was Regular Rumination and my introduction to the book blogging community was on December 28th, 2008, a date that is approaching quickly and I can hardly believe it. It has been wonderfully enriching to get to know all of you by talking about books and I’m looking forward to another wonderful year!
It’s too early still to put up my favorite books, but there are a few that I know will already make my list. The Things They Carried was the first novel I read in 2009 and I really can’t think of a better way to start off the year. It’s not only the best book I’ve read this year, but one of the best books I’ve ever read. To round off the year, in September I got to meet Mr. O’Brien and see him speak. It was an incredibly moving experience and one I’m not likely to forget any time soon.
Book blogging brought Young Adult fiction back into my life and like reacquainted best friends who stay up all night catching up, I read a ton of it. Some of my favorite finds were Scott Westerfeld, John Green, Patrick Ness, Justine Larbalestier, Suzanne Collins, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Olive Kitteridge was a beautiful novel that not only won the Pulitzer but completely won me over, too. Like The Things They Carried, it has staying power, at least on my top ten list. 2666 might have changed the way I read and my focus of study for my master’s. The Grapes of Wrath and Something Wicked This Way Comes are two classics I read this year that lived up to their praise and also changed me as a reader. Even though City of Thieves isn’t perfect, it ended up being one of my funniest reads of the year that still has me chuckling when I just think about some of the jokes included.
Graphic novels were big for me, especially graphic memoirs and non-fiction like Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco and Stitches by David Small. I made the commitment in 2009 to read more books by women and people of many different colors and nationalities; through that goal, I discovered two new favorite authors that I can’t wait to explore more: Tayari Jones and Octavia Butler. I hope to make this an even bigger priority in 2010, with authors from around the globe. Poetry made a comeback in my life and will only continue to become a bigger focus for next year. I ditched all my challenges a couple months ago, but don’t worry, I’m making up for it in 2010.
Keep an eye out on my blog for a post that looks ahead to 2010 and as we get closer to the New Year, a final year end list that will be nearly impossible to put together. Thanks everyone for making 2009 spectacular!