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Where She Went by Gayle Forman

picture of book cover

If your family was killed and you had a choice of whether to wake up from a coma, what would you choose?
Three years ago, that’s the situation that cellist and high school student Mia faced. In the haunting If I Stay , she reflects on her life while listening to those around her, including her boyfriend Adam. Ultimately, Mia chooses to wake up.
When inlinw not found for 0525422943 begins, it’s now Adam’s story, and he’s a mess. He achieved all of his dreams of becoming a success – his band, Shooting Star, created an album, Collateral Damage, that went galactic, and in addition to the money and the fame, he lives with an up and coming actress. But he’s haunted by his breakup with Mia, who has become a famous cellist in her own right.
Trying to find a lost love is not quite the same as losing one’s mother, father and brother in a car crash, so if Where She Went falls short, it’s not due to Forman’s writing or her characters. She nails the scene that Adam has become a part of, where the band can’t stand to be together,  how his passion, music, has become commoditized and the trappings of fame. Adam at one point is “seized with this paranoia, not even so much that I’ll get photographed or hounded by a mob of autograph seekers—though I really don’t want to deal with that right now—but that I’ll be mocked as the only person in the entire park who’s alone, even though this obviously isn’t the case.” When Mia and Adam meet up, the unraveling of all that has happened between them is suspenseful and touching. If they act occasionally immature, wacky, or self-involved, the reader remembers that they are, after all, 21. While Collateral Damage’s lyrics, which often start off a chapter, seem to be immersed in pathos, it’s not unrealistic to believe that they hit a chord with their fans.
That said, Where She Went is really for those who were fans of If I Stay. Parents looking for young adult books for their teenager should buy both books, and those adults who like Carolyn Mackler, Lauren Oliver, or Jay Asher’s work will also like Forman. There's one discreet sex scene, and lots of discussion about grief, death, and moving on.