Where She Went by Gayle Forman; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Where She Went

Author: Gayle Forman

Published: April 5th, 2011

Number of Pages: 258

Rating: 4/5

Official Review Sent to Dutton*:

Where She Went was far more intriguing, thoughtful, and beautiful than I had expected. Gayle Forman’s style weaves a picture that is so intricate and succinct that, even in a mere 258 pages, she manages to suck you into the world of Adam Wilde, a world that has shattered and rebuilt itself but has gaping holes where pieces were lost in the process. The story is interesting from the start, but the moment Mia and Adam run into each other – seemingly by luck – the book takes off on an irresistible journey, not of self-discovery, but rediscovery.


It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance. [From Goodreads]


First of all, a reminder is in order: I was not the biggest fan of If I Stay. Part of my disappointment with it was probably due to the hype surrounding it and my hopes, which despite my wishes, ended up higher than would be advised. When I came across an ARC of Where She Went, the primary motivation for my picking it up was again the hype (I’m hopeless).  Of course, there were things I didn’t like so much – things I realize would have happened had the story been true that I still wish hadn’t, but…

Boy, was I surprised. I really, really enjoyed it! I can’t even pinpoint why I didn’t give it five stars, though I stand behind that rating. I was in love with Adam’s voice from the start (thought not a fan of some of his word choice. You know me…). I wanted to read. At the end of every chapter, I’d think, “Just one more.” This book is like oatmeal raisin cookies to me (a compliment). Even with my excitement to keep reading, the length of the book is perfect. If it was any longer, I’d have been driven mad – and Adam along with me.

I also loved that everyone was older. Adam’s twenty-one, and it’s been a full three years since he has seen Mia at all. Yet, he lives his life as though it were yesterday that she waved goodbye to him at the airport. All the progress it seems he’s made – Shooting Star, his band, is majorly successful due to him, he’s dating a movie star, he’s going on a tour that’s been sold out and tickets are probably being sold on eBay for hundreds of dollars – is in vain because the one thing he can’t have, the one thing he promised to let go, is the thing he wants more than anything.

Seeing the differences and developments in everyone’s lives was fascinating, especially as my recollection of the events in If I Stay improved. Mia’s been successful as well, and, much to Adam’s chagrin, she seems far more put-together than him.

This book is such a thoughtful – even philosophic one. The bits of Shooting Stars’ songs at the beginning of chapters only add to this element, and the monologues, dialogues, everything throughout the book is complementary.

Where She Went undoubtedly touched me in a deeper way than its companion novel. The new versions of Mia and Adam, the patched-together-but-not-quite-whole ones, made for a fantastic forty-eight-hour adventure. I enjoyed the descriptions of New York and the memories of Oregon even more (naturally).

One of the fascinating elements of the story was the fact that Mia and Adam’s relationship seemed to grow and change even during their three years of separation – and I mean total separation. The closest they got were articles in the tabloids and newspapers. As they open up to each other and learn to deal with all the emotions – from hatred to love – that have been put on the backburner, their wounds are stitched up, leaving scars but not infection.

As I said in the review I sent to the publishers, this story isn’t about Adam finding Mia, it’s about him finding the resolution, the result he needed – quitting the Adam he’s become over the past three years and rediscovering himself.

Growth comes from every direction, including Mia’s. It seems at the beginning, just as it would to someone looking at Adam, that her life has improved tenfold and that there can’t be much to desire, but there always is. Once I got a peek into her, saw the light cast through the holes in the life she’s tried to rebuild, the story rounded itself further. I also learned to appreciate how much progress she had made, and I could respect and admire her a lot more than I had been able to in If I Stay.

Where She Went is a story about the recovery, rebuilding, and rediscovery of two desperate but strong people and their lives. It’s about fixing wrongs or letting them go. It’s about two people who are patching themselves back together.

*Super thanks for the ARC!

8 Commentsto “Where She Went by Gayle Forman; Review”

  1. madeleine! why are you such a good writer! xD

    Anyways, loved your review (duh)… i still need to figure out my brain to write one (far more gushing lol) soon!

    • Ha – Audrey! Why are you always so nice to me? ;D

      I can't wait for your review! I tried to keep the gushing to a minimum, BUT IT'S JUST SO GOOD. ;D I can't wait to re-read it because I still can't decide why I didn't give it a 5/5. :/

  2. Great review! I wasn't a big fan of If I Stay either and hadn't really been planning on reading this one, but myabe I'll give it a shot =)

  3. I would kill to get my hands on a copy of this ARC. If I Stay was a pretty good book the first read, but as I reread it over and over again many of the poignant lines in the book stayed with me. I literally can’t wait for this book to be released!!!

    • I think rereading IF I STAY is a good idea. I might need to read both of them in the same weekend sometime.

      If you loved IF I STAY, you will want to scream your adoration for WHERE SHE WENT from the rooftops. ;D

  4. Hi! I just read If I Stay, and I lovvveeddd it! especially when after i finished, i looked back and realized how awful Adam must have felt when his girlfriends bestfriend came to him and send, your girlfriends in a coma, and how he tried to fight sooo hard against security so i could see her. Anyways I was wondering, I loved If I Stay so much because they stayed together in the end, and if Adam ends up with Bryn (i think thats the movie stars name) at the end, i dont know if i'll like it. so do you think i should read it?

    • I'm excited by your enthusiasm! However, I don't want to spoil things for other people. If you'd email me using the contact page, I can let you know!

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