Saturday, November 15, 2014

Where She Went by Gayle Forman - the audio book

Image result for where she went book imageIF I STAY, a contemporary young adult novel recently made into a movie, tells the story of Mia, a teenage cellist, whose parents and only brother die in a winter car crash which leaves her in a coma.
The entire book is told by Mia as the family prepares to enjoy an unexpected day off from school and then as she witnesses herself in the coma.The story ends as her longtime boyfriend, teen rock musican Adam tells her that "if she stays" he will do whatever she wants - accompany her to Julliard or walk away from her.  Listening to the audio version of that book was both painful and riveting.  I haven't seen the movie and I am not sure I will, simply because the audio version of the book was so well done.  I don't think the visualization can add anything.  WHERE SHE WENT is the novel's sequel; it is three years later, and Adam is now the one telling the story.  Mia recovered from the accident and with her grandparents' support decided to go to Julliard, leaving Adam behind in Oregon.  For the first weeks they maintain a long distance relationship, but then Mia stops answering Adam's calls and texts.  Adam quits performing with his rock band and sinks into a deep depression.  Holed up in his old childhood room, he begins to pour his broken heart into a series of songs.  When he finally goes back to the band, those songs become their breakout album Collateral Damage.  Throughout the book, selected lyrics from the songs open each chapter, setting the tone of abandonment and hurt. But pain sells and Adam's group rockets into stardom.  As the book opens, Adam is preparing to leave for a world tour.  The band has left before him; clearly, there are issues among them.  Adam is relying on pills to ease an ever increasing anxiety and his Hollywood girlfriend says he needs to confront his unresolved issues with Mia.  On a sleepless night in New York City, Adam discovers that Mia is performing at Carnegie Hall and sneaks in to watch her perform, sure that he will not be noticed.

At about 5 hours, this audio version was perfect to listen to while working on some sewing projects.  Definitely written for young people, Forman has packed the story with references to punk rock and other West Coast rock movements.  Despite not being a youngster or a rocker, I felt it gave this lost love story its own freshness.  Adam's narration and flashbacks to the young couple's short time together gave depth and perspective to their unique relationship (a rocker and a classical celloist).  
I can see why Gayle Forman continues to be a popular author for today's teens. 

Note: Before recommending this book to young teens, know that Mia and Adam are sexually involved while in high school, not a choice I would recommend for teens.  That said, there is much about their relationship and these two stories that is thoughtful and beautiful.  I obtained the audio version of both books from WPLC --Wisconsin Public Library Consortium and downloaded them to my MP3 player.

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