Where She Went by Gayle Forman (NY: Dutton, 2011).
It's been three years since Mia broke up with Adam, and he's still suffering. She has fully recovered from the accident that killed her whole family and nearly killed her, too. Adam begged her to wake up from her post-accident coma (as documented in the gripping If I Stay), even promising to let her go if that's what she wants. They're an unlikely couple to begin with--she's a classical cellist on her way to Julliard, he's a heavy metal guitarist in an up-and-coming rock band. He helps her recover, but then she drops him without explanation right after she moves to New York. At first Adam retreats from everything, but then he channels his pain into a bunch of songs that rocket him and his band into the rock-and-roll stratosphere. Despite his instafame, and all the accouterments, Adam feels cut off and alone, often lashing out at his manager and bandmates, or even strangers, like reporters who want the inside scoop on his wild life with his celebrity girlfriend. By chance, Adam is in New York the night of Mia's first concert in Carnegie Hall. They're both about to launch huge tours, but they have one night to settle things. Can Adam get the closure he needs? Or does he need something different? And what will Mia have to say? Together, Adam and Mia travel around New York on an emotional odyssey.
Forman's sequel to If I Stay hums with raw emotion. Adam's grief is palpable in his every word and action. Forman deftly shows how close to the edge of self-destruction Adam is dwelling after the break-up and even three years later. This is easily the high point of the novel, its truly powerful foundation. Adam has tried to avoid his pain to an extent through sex, drugs, and antisocial behavior. Yes, he has a girlfriend, but even he recognizes that it's more about his public image than a true connection. He still misses Mia every single day. Since the novel is more about Adam than Mia, it's somewhat understandable that Mia is less developed in this novel, but this makes the second half of the novel somewhat lacking, especially compared to the power of the first half. In the end, every reader will have to judge for him or herself if Mia's reasons for her actions are adequate for the amount of grief she caused Adam. I'm still not sure, but this novel is definitely worth reading. Recommended for older teens. Sex, drugs, alcohol, language.
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