Audiobook Review: If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman (SPOILERS)

WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH IF I STAY AND WHERE SHE WENT. I’m reviewing both books in one post because I listened to the audiobooks back-to-back and didn’t get my If I Stay review written before I finished Where She Went.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay was beautifully written and narrated. Mia spent most of the book in a coma after the car accident that killed her family. When she realized she had the choice to live or die, she reflected on events of her life and the people in it. I loved hearing her stories, like the time she got her first cello and her memories of her family and her first date with Adam.

I avoided If I Stay for a long time because I was under the impression that it was a sad book, and I generally don’t like those.

Confession: I didn’t find it emotional at all. It was a good book, a very good book, but I wasn’t even close to tears throughout the entire book. Sure, it was sad that Mia’s parents and little brother died, but I didn’t feel the sadness because Mia didn’t seem to feel the sadness deeply. She was sad, of course, but she was also confused and her mind was focused on her choice of whether to live or die. She wasn’t living with the day-to-day grief of someone who had lost her parents and little brother. She wasn’t there yet. That came later.

Unfortunately, that story wasn’t told — except in flashbacks in Where She Went. Those flashbacks weren’t even from Mia’s point-of-view; they were from Adam’s because Where She Went was Adam’s book. Mia talked about some of what she went through at Julliard, but it wasn’t nearly enough for me.

It’s been three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life.

And three years he’s spent wondering why.

When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.

Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good – or can you really have a second chance at first love?

I liked Adam in the first book. I saw him through Mia’s eyes and Mia loved him, so I saw (and liked) the best of Adam. I thought they were a good couple and they seemed like would stay together post-high school. But in Where She Went, hearing Adam’s thoughts and seeing things through his eyes, I didn’t like him anymore. Picking up three years after the end of If I Stay, Adam’s band had hit it big, but his personal life was decidedly less awesome. Mia left him, and Adam was now super-emo. He was whiny and self-centered and I thought Mia was lucky she didn’t have to spend the past three years with this mope.

Adam, get over it. Everyone gets their heart broken. Everyone gets over it. Everyone except Adam, who still pined for Mia despite not hearing a word from her in years. You have to work at being that heartbroken, which means you have to enjoy it on some level.

Also? Four girls in two weeks? Gross.

Adam’s grief over the loss of his Mia, destroyed the rest of his relationships. His band was barely speaking to him. People understand heartbreak, but they will only be patient for so long and three years is well beyond the time you can expect. For me, it was about five minutes. Then I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the book.

Obviously, Adam’s thoughts and behavior were a direct result of losing Mia, but it made me wonder if this was lurking inside him all the time and I just didn’t know it because Mia didn’t know it.

What a disappointment. Where She Went definitely wasn’t the the conclusion to Mia and Adam’s story that I wanted. A second book about Mia would have been a much better idea. Even better than that: If I Stay Should have been a standalone.

As many audiobook listeners know, the narrator can make or break the book. Both narrators (Kirsten Potter for If I Stay and Dan Bittner in Where She Went) were good, so I know my disappointment in Where She Went didn’t have anything to do with that.

4 stars
If I Stay
addtogoodreads

two-stars
Where She Went
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Jenna

Comments

  1. I also listened to both of these as audiobooks. I really liked both of them and loved hearing Adam’s side. I realize what you are saying about Adam’s sexual escapades but I cannot imagine what it would feel like to have the one person you thought you would be with forever walk away
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings
    Missie recently posted…Review of Vampire AcademyMy Profile

  2. I read if I stay, but it obviously didn’t leave much of an impression. I didn’t even have it listed on my 2013 Goodreads challenge as read! I read it for book club. To be honest, I may have liked it a little better if we hadn’t just finished The Fault in Our Stars the month before. They were just a little too alike for me. I did pick up Where She Went when I finished, but one chapter was more than enough for me. I totally agree about Adam. What a disappointment!
    Kim@Time2Read recently posted…Review: Mambo in ChinatownMy Profile

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  1. […] I try not to think about his behavior while his band was on tour, lest I start thinking of him as Adam Wilde in Where She Went. (There are spoilers in that review!) Mason hasn’t had the success that Adam has had, which […]