Monday, April 4, 2011

A Second Open Letter to Gayle Forman, Author of Where She Went

Where She Went
by Gayle Forman
Releases on 04.05.2011
264 pages
Dutton Juvenile
Source: ARC from the publisher

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 Julliard'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).

 Dear Ms. Forman,

Can I call you Gayle?  After all, you've reduced me to a snotty, hiccuping mess twice now.  That ought to put us on a first name basis.  The last time I wrote you was right after I finished If I Stay.   Nothing makes me feel quite as raw as something that rips the lid off my fear of death, and did that book ever pick my shaking little bones clean.  But it's okay.  Going through that once, it's all good.  That's what a good book is supposed to do to you, right?  Great books evoke emotional responses.  Crying is a barometer for your empathy, for your soul.  And who wouldn't cry for Mia, after what she went through?  Losing your entire family in one swoop, and then deciding to keep on keepin' on despite the horrific loss. .. I can't imagine that Mia's bravery and resolve wouldn't affect a person.  I didn't think I'd cry like that again for quite some time.

I guess somewhere in there I did kind of forget about Adam. . . Again, you and your setups.  

I don't know how, but you did it again, but this time it was with a pill popping, emo dripping, reclusive, self-loather.  I was in tears by page 100, and you managed to do it with a type I normally despise.  I kept thinking the same thing in awed wonder:"Oh, that wench.  She's killing me again."  I mean that without ire and with a certain kind of admiration.  I don't name call unless I care.

Honestly, it was easier when it was the girl breaking my heart.  Oh, but Adam, you can't hate the guy who got Mia to come back.  It's not possible.  If love can do that, it can do anything right?  His voice and promise were the Lorenzo's Oil of young adult tragedy.  

I guess somewhere along the line, we've become something of a Kim to Mia in our minds, and we admired Adam for his devotion to her.  I guess somewhere we figured that Adam was fine being a shelf of support for Mia, and we forgot that he might need one, too.  I guess we kind of forgot that her whole family had become his.  

Adam's feelings of loss are tough in this one.  I think it's always tough when you are the secondary mourner, the one who doesn't have any right to treat the loss as your own.  When someone close to you loses a blood relative whom you also loved, there in something in you that feels like you don't have the right to treat the loss as your own.  Sometimes all you have left is the one you have to be there for.  And when that person chooses to leave you. .  .Christ, what the hell are you worth then?  I see why Adam has issues.

There might have been flaws in Where She Went.  I wouldn't know.  I was too busy being in the moment with them, crossing my fingers and wanting/hoping/praying they left with closure.  So, if there were any, they didn't matter - they were overpowered by the emotion.  Adam's flashbacks, his internal monologue and their conversation, their reckoning . . . I didn't think you could do it again, but you did.  You left me without the ability to write an actual review.  I think it was actually tougher (and better) this time because we already know them both.  I mean, I'm writing this thing on a Monday during my lunch break, but I finished it last Thursday.  I thought the distance would give me insight, but here I am, tearing up again.

You nailed it again, Gayle.  I doubt we'll ever see Adam and Mia in any more books, but I do hope you will continue to bring your brand of evocative and emotional writing to the table again and again.

As for making me cry, I am going to steal a line and say, "So, dude.  Bygones."



  1. So I have a problem. I'm challenged and still have not read If I Stay *ducks head in shame*. This is a stunning letter and any book that makes you write a letter this beautiful to the author is a book that I need to read. I know I've said it before, but I'm really going to pick it up this time. This is me going to the bookstore immediately. Brilliant Linds:)

  2. What a beautiful and touching letter. I for one am excited to read this book! I have been dying for it to come out. I know it will be good cause the reviews on this book are fantastic!

  3. Love this review (letter) and loved the book!

    I agree with you 100% about Adam. I so wanted to hate him with his emo, pill-popping, rock-star entitled attitude. But the longer I journeyed with him through his pain, the more I just wanted to hug him.

  4. I skim this review very briefly only because I'm anxiously awaiting my own copy to come in any day now. Glad to know that you loved the book. :)

  5. What a beautiful review! I actually prefer to this to a standard critique because you really managed to get across just how devastated this book left you.
    Great stuff!

  6. I love these open letters! These are totally amazing! :)

    And I agree. How could you not love Adam after what he did for Mia, and you just *ache* for him, knowing that Mia chose to walk away. Sigh. Gayle Forman is kind of my hero.

  7. Aghhhhh I love this post sooo freaking much. love love love. And I love everything about this book. so. much. loveliness!!

  8. Little late in commenting but it was at the bottom of another post and I've just finished writing my review of this book. Though I didn't cry, (my issue) Ms. Forman is an incredible author and I now feel like writing "See Bibliophile Brouhaha's Second Open Letter to Gayle Forman for a great review of this book." Would you mind? I can't do it the justice you do. And it certainly deserves it. Perhaps I'll give it another try. If not, I'm refering them here.