Tuesday, August 2, 2016

If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

If I Stay

A movie adaptation has been made on this story. I watched the movie about 2 years ago and had enjoyed it, especially the soundtrack. The song Today by the Smashing Pumpkins has become one of my favorite songs right after watching the movie.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman book review
If I Stay by Gayle Forman is a tragedy. It is about coping and accepting. Of finding the reason if it is still worth living after losing your entire family. Of knowing, if life is still worth it after all the hurt that would never go away, even if you have cried your heart out. Of finding the strength to move on, even if you would rather the earth swallow you whole.  

Mia is an exceptionally talented cello player. She grew up with music at home. Her father used to be in a band. And her mom is the coolest mom ever. Actually, her parents are the coolest.                                                                      
She also have a rock star for a boyfriend - Adam. The vocalist of a rising band Shooting Star. Mia's life is fine, if not perfect. Until one day, the first day of snow. The family decided to visit the grandparents. Mia's dad's parents. That day, everything in Mia's life will be forever changed by a road accident.

This is a very heart-wrenching story. It felt like my heart was crushed and pounded into pulp. I would not imagine going through this tragic experience. I don't think there is ever anything more heartbreaking than what happened to Mia. I would not want to be in her shoes. I pray to God. I would rather be the one to leave first than the one being left. It is always the hardest being the one left behind. But as they say, love conquers all. Love can survive everything, even the most traumatic events in life. Love will give us the energy and the strength to forge on, no matter how excruciating the pain is. Love will sustain us. And true enough, love made Mia stay. Love made her go on, even with her heart in tatters from the great loss. Love nourishes the human spirit and makes it withstand even the loneliest void.

I cried a lot reading this, even though I already know what's going to happen, though not exactly like in the movie. It's dismal but I keep rooting for Mia to hold on and for Adam to keep Mia from leaving.

Absolutely, absolutely, a great story even though a few people died. It is one of those stories that you would love to read over and over again, even if  you will end up with puffy eyes and runny nose. 

I give If I Stay four stars.

Sleeping without dreams...sleep of the dead. Is that what death would feel like? The nicest, warmest, heaviest never-ending nap? If that's what it's like, I wouldn't mind. If that's what dying is like, I wouldn't mind that at all.
 - Gayle Forman, If I Stay -

Where She Went

Where She Went is a sequel to If I Stay. It talks about Mia and Adam's lives after the accident in the point of view of Adam. How they have to cope with the pain of loss and how they tried to live their lives knowing it would never be the same ever.

Mia went to Julliard in New York to study and Adam and his band became famous. Shooting Star got signed by a big label and is busy with concert tours promoting their album.

Where She went by Gayle Forman book review

It may seem like all their dreams are coming true, that everything seems to be working out according to planned. But nothing is as it seems. Mia is trying to deal with the loss of her parents and her brother and the only way she knows of making the grief bearable is to leave everyone behind in Oregon, including Adam.

Where She Went is Adam asking and wondering what went wrong between him and Mia.

What I love about this story is that it is very realistic. No pads and no helmets. The rawest and realest possible reaction to a loss and death is exposed here. It speaks of the ordeal and suffering, hearts and minds go through after a terrible loss. In the first book, love saved Mia and in here, she had to keep feeding on that love but still find it lacking. Love alone is not enough to survive and put herself back together. She had to feed on hate, accept and let go.

I feel Adam. I can precisely understand what he is going through. How hard it is waking up to another day when you feel like there is no reason for getting up in the morning. How difficult and trying it is to get through another day. To go crazy looking for places where to draw strength from just to get through. That nothing seems to make sense, even if you have everything you could ask for, but not the one thing you need most. That all you want to do is sleep and hope that you'll wake up in the next century or never wake up at all.

Like Adam, I talk to myself. Come up with a mantra to just keep my head above the water, to keep myself from breaking. I know exactly how it feels like to lose something or somebody. What's more tormenting is knowing that he is just there, somewhere, just out of reach. And he has no idea that you're barely breathing.

I cried harder reading this. And I am glad to know that love and forgiveness, in whatever form, still conquers all. Love resolves all and heals all. No matter how massive the destruction it has wrought, love and forgiveness will make you whole again. 

This is a story of hope and forgiveness, of second chances and of letting go. No matter how popular and rich you are, it will never make you sleep better at night if your heart is not where it wants to be. I love how it ended and for Mia and Adam to finally find a way back to each other. Music heals also. Music detoxifies and frees the spirit of its shackles and chains. Music is freedom. 

I give Where She Went, four and a half rocking stars. I love this more than the first one.

A day might be just twenty-four hours but sometimes getting through just one seems as impossible as scaling Everest.
                                 - Gayle Forman, Where She Went -