A white girl with long, dark brown hair looks longingly past the camera

About the Book

Title: Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
Published: 2011
Series: If I Stay
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: Brown Bag It
BFF Charm: Eventually
Talky Talk: Let’s Hear It For the Boy
Bonus Factors: Before Sunrise, NYC!, Tasty Business
Anti-Bonus Factor: Emocore/Song Lyrics
Relationship Status: I Love You, I Love You Not

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

Man, I was SO disappointed in the tilty-face/windblown-hair cover! I loved the original covers for If I Stay, and this one, with the smoke in the background and drifty, dreamy girl that matches one of the later If I Stay covers just makes me zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The Deal:

After the car accident that killed Mia’s family and nearly killed her, Adam was so afraid of Mia getting hurt that when she left for Julliard and stomped Adam’s heart into a million achy, breaky pieces, Adam didn’t know what hit him. Three years later, he’s managed to channel his pain into his music, turning his indie-punk-pop band Shooting Star into an emocore zillion-platinum sensation (yes, I know, WHO NAMES THEIR BAND SHOOTING STAR?), but Adam’s just an empty shell. Then right before he leaves for London to start a tour with the band he hardly sees anymore, he runs into Mia and the two of them have one night to see if they can reconnect.

BFF Charm: Eventually

BFF Charm with a sweatband on

Y’all, Adam is just SUCH a boy. Moan, moan, moan about missing Mia, all while sticking his P in another girl’s V and popping pills and smoking cigs to take away the pain, when he really should just either MOVE ON ALREADY or get it all out! Talk to Liz, the awesome drummer and original boss of Shooting Star (if there was a drinking game for this book, Rule #1 would be to drink every time you read “Shooting Star”)! She can help you if you just open UP a little bit. But of course, Adam doesn’t, even though he knows he’s a monumental prick and a loser for moping all the time when he really has it so good. But EVENTUALLY, he gets his head out of his ass, and I’d be happy to buy him a coffee and fangirl-beg him to sign my bra strap.

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

So If I Stay was full of love and the pain of love and the pain of someone you love in pain, so there wasn’t much room for swoon in all that pain and love. But Where She Went doesn’t have a car crash, unless you consider Adam to be a complete wreck, and Adam and Mia are all grown up and can, like, buy alcohol legally and stuff, so the swoon factor is much higher. Between the flashbacks of their pre-crash young love (and thankfully there’s no “playing each other like a guitar/cello” in this book), and their fragile reconnection as grownups with baggage, there’s plenty of swoon to go around. Where She Went doesn’t have a big ol’ DNRIP tag slapped across the front, but I do want to warn you to stop reading when you get to the courtyard scene if you happen to be at work or in public.

Talky Talk: Let’s Hear It For the Boy

Like If I StayWhere She Went is written partly in flashbacks, as Adam remembers being with Mia before the accident and in the broken time after she woke up, before she left for Julliard. Forman does a great job getting right into Adam’s brain, for better or worse. He was so adorable seen through Mia’s eyes, but he’s much more human and a little less sexy, what with the moping. But it’s GOOD moping, if that makes any sense — it’s real, like it or not, and the choices Forman makes for her characters are painful and sucky and real. She doesn’t shy away from hard decisions to make her readers happy — if she did, she wouldn’t have Mia walk away from Adam in the first place, and she wouldn’t have Adam react the way he did, by becoming a self-destructive rock star asshole (but a self-aware and therefore kind of charming asshole, when he’s not being emo). Forman’s also great at writing dynamic characters, and I loved watching Adam soften and change as the book went on, and fall back in love with him (he steals my heart in the bowling alley!).

Here’s a great example of how Forman shows how hard their meeting is on both Mia and Adam, with all the mixed-up longing and uncontrolled emotions of running into an old love:

“I don’t want to see your pictures!” My voice is as sharp as ice cracking, as loud as a parent’s reprimand.

Mia stops her digging. “Oh. Okay.” She looks chastened, slapped down. She zips her bag and slides it back into the booth, and in the process, knocks over my bottle of beer. She starts frantically grabbing at napkins from the dispenser to sop up the brew, like there’s battery acid leaking over the table.

“Damn!” she says.

“It’s no big deal.”

“It is. I’ve made a huge mess,” Mia says breathlessly.

“You got most of it. Just call your buddy over and he’ll get the rest.”

She continues to clean maniacally until she’s emptied the napkin dispenser and used up every dry paper product in the vicinity. She balls up the soiled napkins and I think she’s about to go at the tabletop with her bare arm, and I’m watching the whole thing, slightly perplexed. Until Mia runs out of gas. She stops, hangs her head. Then she looks up at me with those eyes of hers.

“I’m sorry.”

I know the cool thing to do is say it’s ok, it’s no big deal, I didn’t even get beer on me. But all of a sudden I’m not sure we’re talking about beer, and if we’re not talking about beer, if Mia’s issuing some stealth apology …

Bonus Factor: Before Sunrise

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy from Before Sunrise walking the street

Julie Delpy! Ethan Hawke! 12 hours to get to know each other and fall in love and see Vienna and then go their separate ways! I first saw this movie when I was babysitting, and there was nothing more romantic to my 15-yo self than two people having just one romantic night and parting forever and ever. So when Mia takes Adam around on her farewell tour of her special NYC places, my little heart did a swoon.

Bonus Factor: NYC!

Overhead view of New York City skyline

Could New York ever be an ANTI-bonus factor? No! Mia’s New York is magical and charming, and made me fall just a little bit in love with Mia right along with Adam, from the Port Authority bowling alley to the hidden gardens and the Greek diner.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

Close up of greek food spanakopita

There isn’t actually all that much tasty business in this book, but I’m always hungry and I’m also very suggestible when it comes to food, so from the Greek diner to the smell of butter and sugar and coffee from a bakery at dawn, I just wanted to nomnomnom.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Emocore and Song Lyrics

Close up of Emo girls, two sets of hands with black polish, fishnet arm sleeves, and stripped tights

In my review of If I Stay I mentioned there was “no weird poetry or silly song lyrics,” but apparently Forman didn’t read it, because many of the chapters start with, you guessed it — SONG LYRICS! Emocore song lyrics! And if there’s something that makes me cringe more than song lyrics in books, it’s emocore song lyrics (in books or real life, whatever). I won’t share a lot because I really don’t want to make fun of the book, but I have to give you a taste:

There’s a piece of lead where my heart should beat
Doctor said too dangerous to take out
You’d better just leave it be
Body grew back around it, a miracle, praise be
Now, if only I could get through airport security

I gotta say, most of the music biz in this book made me cringe inside, like a 12-year-old at the mall with her parents. Plus, hello! SHOOTING STAR.

Relationship Status: I Love You, I Love You Not

I loved this book! I didn’t love this book! It both captivated and infuriated me, but the whole time I totally respected it and its choices. It stuck with me for a long time, and it also made me appreciate If I Stay a little more. This book rekindled an old relationship and while it may not make it, it has a better chance because of its maturity. Also, it made me say, “OMG WTF SHIZZZZZZ!!!!” when I finished it, so you know. There’s that.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy of Where She Went from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Where She Went is available now.

Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.