Where She Went

Common Sense Media says

Mature sequel examines fame, loss, and enduring love.

Age(i)

2
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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Parents could use this book to discuss the difference between casual high-school relationships and truly life-changing ones that can impact someone forever. Mia and Adam's success is an example of the importance of fulfilling your personal dreams even if it takes you far away from someone you love.

Positive messages

Lots of mature messages about grieving the loss of your family but knowing they are always a part of you. Also, learning to let go of your first love -- and embracing a second chance at romance.

Positive role models

For most of the book, Adam's filled with angst and rage. He imagines hurting people who've provoked him, and he recalls times he was cruel and lashed out at people, some of them friends, because of the pain that Mia has caused him. Despite his many flaws, it's good for teens to read about someone who seems like he has a perfect "celebrity" life but is in fact experiencing so much anguish and insecurity. And in the end he is able to gain some important coming-of-age insights.

Violence

In his anger and grief, Adam thinks about "smacking" a reporter and paparazzo, pushing someone he loves against a wall, and hurting his bandmate. His anger can be volatile and disturbing at times, and he lashes out at several people in the book.

Sex

Twenty-one-year-old Adam admits on several occasions that he's been with "more girls than he can count" since his break-up. He recalls some of his more memorable one-night-stands with groupies (but never graphically). Cohabitation and pregnancy are also mentioned. There is one slightly more detailed passionate night described in the book, but it mostly focuses on kissing and caressing and then alludes to the build-up and aftermath on the sofa and bed.

Language

Stronger and more frequent than in comparable YA novels: "f--k," "assh--e," "s--t," "prick," "dick," "bitch," "pissing," "damn," and the occasional exclamation of "Jesus" and "Christ."

Consumerism

iPod, Armani, and a slew of musicians -- Fugazi, the Rolling Stones, Sufjan Stephens, The New Pornographers, and classical virtuosos like YoYo Ma and the late Jacqueline DuPre -- are all name-checked in the story.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adam is a chain-smoker and mentions how he started smoking and can't stop because it calms his nerves. Drug use and drunken behavior, as well as one minor character's substance abuse, is referenced as part of Adam's rock-star lifestyle.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this angsty coming-of-age romance is the dramatic sequel to Gayle Forman's tearjerking New York Times bestseller  If I Stay. Adam's anger can be volatile and disturbing at times, and he lashes out at several people in the book: He thinks about "smacking" a reporter and paparazzo, pushing someone he loves against a wall, and hurting his bandmate. There's lots of mature language and mature material (Adam admits on several occasions that he's been with "more girls than he can count" since his break-up). The messages (grieving the loss of your family but knowing they are always a part of you; learning to let go of your first love -- and embracing a second chance at romance) will also connect better with more sophisticated teen readers.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In Gayle Forman's powerful novel If I Stay, Adam Wilde is an 18-year-old aspiring musician begging the book's protagonist -- his comatose girlfriend Mia Hall -- to stay alive after a car crash that killed the rest of her immediate family. WHERE SHE WENT picks up more than three years later and switches the perspective from Mia to Adam, now a wunderkind rock musician who seems to have it all -- a Grammy-winning band, millions of fans, and a girlfriend who's a Hollywood starlet. But Adam is still deeply disturbed by the fact that after seeing Mia through an intensely painful recovery, she flew to New York to attend Juilliard and broke up with him in a cruel act of abandonment. One fateful day, Adam is wandering around New York before an international concert tour and discovers Mia's playing at Carnegie Hall that very night. He can't help but buy a ticket, and afterward Mia and Adam spend a whirlwind night coming to terms with everything that's happened since she left him.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Forman again expertly explores tough topics such as grief and letting go of love, this time using Adam's continued uncertainty and despair to create the dramatic tension in the novel. As in If I Stay, the author effectively intersperses the present with flashbacks that fill in the gaps of the three-and-a-half years since Mia's accident. It's satisfying to get Adam's perspective on the difficult months after Mia wakes up to discover she's entirely orphaned, and also hear him relate the earlier days of his relationship with Mia  -- including how wonderful the Hall family was to Adam, who always felt part of the clan. His feelings are understandably raw throughout the book, and he expresses them well in the lyrics of fictional album Collateral Damage. Forman beautifully describes the heartache Adam faces when seeing Mia again, and how it feels having to be pleasant and overly formal with someone you want to either kiss or hurt. 

The story's one-long-night-together format is somewhat reminiscent of the classic romantic film Before Sunrise, except instead of young strangers on a train who quickly fall in love, this book's focus is in on a young couple that never stopped being in love -- but also has no idea how to move past the damage they've endured.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about sequels. What is appealing about reading them? Why do you think authors want to write them -- or publishers want to print them? Are they ever as good as the original story? What are some other books you wish had sequels?

  • What do you think of the author's depiction of media?  Is the rock journalist to blame for asking Adam personal questions, or was she just doing her job in a celebrity-obsessed culture? 

Book details

Author:Gayle Forman
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dutton Books
Publication date:April 5, 2011
Number of pages:208
Publisher's recommended age(s):14

This review of Where She Went was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
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Parent of a 14 year old Written bywillowdust April 5, 2011
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

Mature Teen Pleaser

A great book for mature teens. Not for tweens!! This novel while marketed to teens is about 20-something adults dealing with death, fame and sex.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Adult Written byinfinity101love March 5, 2015
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

For mature tweens

this book is mainly for teens and college people but i have read it and its not so bad. Even though the book talks about drinking, drugs, and a little bit smoking its not that bad for some tweens. The book has a lot of language though and i mean a lot of language. But this book is really good. so tweens could read it.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byAlexGarilli December 30, 2014
AGE
15
QUALITY
 
I loved Where She Went, and If I Stay. I had read it for my 12 year old sister to see if it was appropriate for her. By request of my mother and sister bc/ I am 18, and my mother is not a reader. For reading them, I think 14 may be a bit young for these books. I know my sister wouldn't exactly like the beginning of If I Stay bc/ of the detail Mia went into describing at how her family looked after the crash on the pavement. And when I told my mother of the language and various things talked about, she also thinks it not appropriate for children under 14. Reading these books also depends on the personality of the reader.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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