Where She Went

Where She Went by Gayle FormanWhere She Went by Gayle Forman
If I Stay # 2
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Number of pages: 264
My copy: paperback, from Fully Booked

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 Juilliard’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.

* * *

If I Stay was one of the books I really loved last year, and news of the sequel made me squee enough to guarantee a post. :) It was a very, very long wait, though, before I could get my grubby hands on them. When reviews of the book start popping up every now and then as it nears the release date, I was even more intrigued. I wanted it, but because of my Lenten book buying fast, I had to wait a bit more.

I remember reading If I Stay in a day — it was that hard to put down. I remember shedding a few tears over some parts, and that feeling of relief and happiness when the book finished on a positive note. Where She Went brings us three years after Mia’s accident, in Adam’s point of view. Adam is alone, lonely and jaded amidst all the fame that he and his band, Shooting Star, is getting. Something is missing, and when he almost breaks down on one interview before he goes to London for a sixty-day tour, he finds what it is, or rather, who is missing: Mia.

But the problem is, Mia is unreachable. She just graduated from Julliard and is about to start touring herself. Adam finds himself in one of her shows, and to his utter surprise, she invites him for a walk, after three years of zero contact. Elated, confused and still angry, Adam joins Mia as he finds out what happened, or did not happen between the two of them.

I will agree with everyone: this book is packed with emotion. It may not be as morbid or as tragic as If I Stay, but it’s sad in a way that you just want to hug Adam and try to make him feel better. It’s kind of sad when you see a guy feel so down and out, and hopeless. Girls are often more emotional, so seeing a guy so broken? It’s just hard not to feel sad for him too. And we know that his reasons for being broken is valid…but the thing we want to know is, what exactly happened?

This book kind of reminds me of 500 Days of Summer, where I felt more sympathy with the guy rather than the girl. But Mia isn’t Summer because I also understand why she wanted what she wanted. What she did wasn’t very nice, but still, she needed it. And sometimes, when we think we do some things so we won’t hurt other people, we still end up hurting them more. And that’s what happened to Adam.

I liked how the story unfolded in Where She Went, and how it all ties up neatly with If I Stay. The ending scene felt a teensy bit cheesy, but still perfect for Adam and Mia’s characters. This book left me with a very satisfied, albeit slightly wrenched, heart. :) It’s a very good sequel. :)

Oh, and a funny note. I was reading this book while watching a Blessed John Paul 2 documentary. I can’t help but shed tears every time I watch a JP2 documentary (you should see me during his beatification! Crying rivers for no reason!), and this book played on those emotions and made me cry more. I was a sight. :P I will have to try and reread this (and If I Stay) next time without other things that could make me cry to see if it still has that effect. :P

Edited to add: After some thinking, I realized something else. The story arc for these two books could be used as a Filipino movie, the ones I love to watch. No wonder it resonated with me so much. :P

Rating:

Other reviews:
Lauren’s Crammed Bookshelf
Books With Bite
Chick Loves Lit
G-Reads!

10 for 2010: Favorite Reads

And here is the final 10 for 2010 list for this year, and the hardest one at that. There has just been too many good books in this year that it’s so hard to pick just ten. But I have to choose ten…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have runner ups and honorable mentions. ;) It’s my list, I can do anything I want to. :P

So, the last 10 for 2010, here are 10 of my Favorite Reads in no particular order…and then some. :)

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen – How much do I love this book? I am very glad that I chose this book as my first classic read for this year. I love Anne Elliot, and I want to be her. I don’t have much point of comparison over other Austen books, but this one is really, really good, even better than P&P. :) I cannot recommend this one enough. :)

2. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – I fell in love with the Kate Daniels series this year (thanks again to Chachic and Michelle for pushing!), but among the four books out in the series, Magic Strikes is the best one so far. It’s got action, tension and all the yummy hotness of Kate and Curran in all of it. Plus the ending had me all smiling and giggly and that is always very, very good. :)

2. Feed by Mira Grant – This book wasn’t the one that got me started on zombies this year, but it was the zombie book I loved the most. :) This book had me from the cover, and then with the story. I loved how geeky this book is and how emotional it is at the end. I loved the characters, and I loved the theme of the story…and I just really loved every bit of this book! This is one of the books that I got in Kindle, then got in print because I want to have my own copy. I gave a copy away, then I gave one as a gift, and now I’m (sort of) giving this away, too. I love this book that much.

3. Happyface by Stephen Emond – This is one of the impulse buys that I never regretted. I wasn’t a fan of hardcovers, but I am glad I got this one the moment I saw it because there are no copies of this one here. This is one of my favorite contemporary YA reads of the year. Happyface is such a darling character, and you just can’t help but fall in love with him. The plot is simple, but it’s very surprising and heartwarming at the end. I wish there were more copies of Happyface here so more people can read it…but that’s why I’m giving one away, right? ;) Oh, and I still think I look like Gretchen. ;)

4. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley – This was another impulse buy, but I’ve been seeing this one way before I got it. I am glad I got it, too, because it has such a beautiful story. The story may sound a bit cheesy with all the beauty talk, but it doesn’t only just talk about inner beauty and self-esteem, but also complications of a family and dreams that never came true. Terra’s transformation was very inspiring, and the ending left me feeling very good about myself, and very beautiful. :) Truly a gem.

6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – I wasn’t planning to read this, and I stopped reading the start for a couple of times, but after I finished the first chapter, I got hooked. Before I Fall is a surprisingly good and powerful novel about life, death, friendship and the choices we make and how they affect people. I finished this book with a wistful smile on my face and tears in my eyes, thankful that I finally gave in and read it.

7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – This is one of the book that I know I would love, only because the people whose book tastes I trust loved this one, too. After reeling from The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I needed more dystopia to keep the high going, so I finally read this one. And I loved every bit of it. I know it gets better with the next two books, and I am very excited to read them. :D Soon.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – This book wouldn’t have made the list if I didn’t read it on time. If I read it in 2011, this would probably have made it in my 2011 list. :P I love the cover, and the story is just as good as the book. It’s not often you read a YA novel about a band, and it’s even rarer that you read a heroine who was deaf. It’s got diverse characters, a great story and a very rocking ending. :) A book that makes me reconsider my Top 10 is a book that deserves more attention. :D

9. Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – You know you really love a book when you re-read it and it still gives you the same feeling it did on the first read. You know you love a book when you actually re-read it in the first place, and within the same year, to boot! I re-read Fairy Tale Fail after I finished reading The Maze Runner, and I really needed a pick-me-up after. It definitely picked me up, and it made me wish to have my own Lucas all over again. :)

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – And like every Best of 2010 books out there, I must not forget about Anna and the French Kiss! This book was an absolutely fun read. After a series of not-so-stellar books, this one just kind of blew my mind. :) I realized a lot of things in this book, particularly: I still love contemporary YA the best, and you can tell a completely ordinary story in an extraordinary way. This is also one of the books that I got on Kindle first, then the hardcover when I found out it’s already available here. That much love, people. That much love. :)

Runners-Up:

  • Paper Towns by John Green – I finished the John Green trifecta this year, and out of all books, I have decided that I liked Paper Towns best. While An Abundance of Katherines was the funniest and happiest, I thought Paper Towns had the better plot and would fare better for a re-read. :) Plus Radar + Ben and the road trip? Priceless.
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – I wouldn’t have heard of this one if not for Pao and Chachic, and I am glad I got this one. Tall Story is a charming story about siblings, Filipino folklore and magic. This is a very heartwarming story, and I am glad this book is available internationally so more people can read it. If you haven’t read it, do include it in your 2011 reading list. You won’t regret it. :)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman – I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I hadn’t heard good things about it from my Goodreads friends. Perhaps my reaction to this was a bit similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go – I plunged into it ready to love it, and I did. It’s not a very cheerful book being dystopia, but it’s very good and it has a lot of potential for a re-read. :)
  • Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr – I read two of Sara Zarr’s books last year and I loved them, so when I saw she had a new book, I knew I had to read it. Once Was Lost was just as beautiful as her other books, but I think I like this one more because it tackled faith. I loved how simple Zarr’s prose was, and how she tackled sensitive issues with grace. If I may quote my review: “Once Was Lost makes you think, makes you ask, and in the end, makes you believe that no matter what the tragedy is, no matter how hard things are, there will always, always be hope.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I read this one fairly recently, and I really liked it. I don’t know if my moods influenced how much I liked it though…but like I said before: any book that has me smiling like an idiot at the last page deserves a recognition. :)

Honorable Mentions:

See, I told you it was too hard. I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you with too many books in this list! It’s just very, very hard to choose. Maybe next year I’ll be more critical, but I’m glad I read so many good books this year. Looking forward to what 2011 had to offer. :)

Now it’s your turn. What’s your top reads in 2010? :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters
10 Favorite Couples
10 Favorite Authors
10 Most Anticipated for 2011
10 Blogging and Reading Highlights

I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway! Get to know the awesomeness that is Feed by Mira Grant, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

Where She Went

Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of iffy about sequels, and series, in particular. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I always feel pressured to get the entire series when I find out that the book I’m reading is a part of a series. I like having more time with fun characters, but I am finding standalone books more and more attractive lately that I’d really rather read those than start reading a series that I’m not even sure I will like. Except maybe for the highly recommended ones.

However, I may make an exception for this one. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is one of my best reads for this year. It’s that kind of book that left me almost wanting for more, but also quite satisfied with how the story ended. I really wouldn’t mind leaving the story that way, but I also won’t think it’s an overkill if there would be some kind of sequel. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found out from Adele of Persnickety Snark that there will be a sequel for this book entitled Where She Went. :) Squee!

First, let’s look at the cover:

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Gorgeous, isn’t it? It perfectly complements the paperback cover, and Mia looks so different and so…I don’t know, free?

And then the jacket copy (if you haven’t read If I Stay yet, major spoiler warning ahead):

My first impulse is not to grab her or kiss her or yell at her. I simply want to touch her cheek, still flushed from the night’s performance. I want to cut through the space that separates us, measured in feet—not miles, not continents, not years—and to take a callused finger to her face. I want to touch her to make sure it’s really her, not one of those dreams I had so often after she left when I’d see her so clear as day, be ready to kiss her or take her to me only to wake up with Mia just beyond reach.

But I can’t touch her. This is a privilege that’s been revoked.

It’s been three years since Adam’s love saved Mia after the accident that annihilated life as she knew it . . . and 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, powerful prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

This is absolutely…wow. I’m guessing this will be told in Adam’s POV this time? I wonder what exactly happened that made Mia walk out of Adam’s life? Did she do what Adam told her at the end of If I Stay? What happened in between?

So many questions, and such a long wait until this gets released. Where She Went will be out on April 19, 2011. In the meantime, there was a Where She Went blog tour, which provided teasers for this book. The complete list can be found in Gayle Forman’s blog. This will definitely be one of the books I’ll be looking out for in 2011. :)

If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
If I Stay # 1
Publisher: Speak
Number of pages: 262
My copy: paperback, from Fully Booked

On a day that started like any other…

Mia had everything: a loving family a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left — the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifitng story, about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

* * *

One word: wow.

I’ve heard so much about this novel, and I hated that it cost P700+ when I first saw it in Fully Booked Eastwood. When I saw cheaper versions of it in Fully Booked Fort, I knew I had to have it more than I wanted dip stations. Two weeks later, I read it in a day, and I finished with tears in my eyes and a heart that felt like bursting.

When I was a kid, I used to watch TV shows whose storyline involve a the main character losing his/her parents because of an accident and their parents leaving a favorite toy, book or an item that would be a remembrance of the parents. After watching so many things like that, I started to become fearful of my parents’ well-being while they were out and I wasn’t with them. Cellphones are not the in thing then, so I have no way of getting in touch with them as I wait for them to arrive. Oftentimes, I’d end up crying with worry, calling their friends to know where they are and…well, generally making a fool of myself because of my fear.

I felt the same kind of fear while I was reading If I Stay. It’s hard to write what I felt while I was reading it, but there were so many questions racing through my head, questions that I wonder about in real life as well. Like, do people who are close to dying know that they are about to say goodbye? What would I do if I was in Mia’s place? Can I choose to stay if I know I have lost a lot?

If I Stay doesn’t have the answers to those questions, but rather presses them on to the reader. The story starts off happy and carefree, and then Forman quickly plunges the readers into the heat of the action. As a reader, I felt Mia’s pain and confusion, and I learned to care for her deeply as I got to know her through her flashbacks. She’s not the most remarkable character once you got to know her past, save for her cello playing talent, but her pain and her choice makes her a strong character, one that resonates deeply with the readers even long after the book was finished.

It’s not a comforting book, mind you, so don’t read it if you’re feeling down. Despite its slightly morbid theme of death, it is also a book of hope, one that encourage the reader to face life despite all its sadness and loss.

If I Stay is a beautiful, thought-provoking book about life, death and love, and it is definitely one of my favorite reads this year. :)

I leave you with the part of the book that made me cry — skip this part if you don’t want to be spoiled because it may be a bit spoiler-y.

“It’s okay,” he tells me. “If you want to go. Everyone wants you to stay. I want you to stay more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life.’ His voice cracks with emotion. He stops, clears his throat, takes a breath, and continues. ‘But that’s what I want and I could see why it might not be what you want. So I just wanted to tell you that I understand if you go. It’s okay if you have to leave us. It’s okay if you want to stop fighting.”

Rating: