Mini Review: If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Title:  If I Stay
Author:  Gayle Forman
Series:  If I Stay #1
Publisher:  Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group
Publication Date:  April 2, 2009
Pages:  234
Format/Source:  Paperback/Purchased
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary, Romance

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck…

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands. (Cover photo and synopsis from Goodreads.)


Title:  Where She Went
Author:  Gayle Forman
Series:  If I Stay #2
Publisher:  Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Group
Publication Date:  April 5, 2011
Pages:  260
Format/Source:  Hardback/Purchased
Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary, Romance 

It’s been three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life.

And three years he’s spent wondering why.

When their paths cross again in New York City, Adam and Mia are brought back together for one life-changing night.

Adam finally has the opportunity to ask Mia the questions that have been haunting him. But will a few hours in this magical city be enough to lay their past to rest, for good – or can you really have a second chance at first love? (Cover photo and synopsis from Goodreads.)

*Warning:  I really don’t like spoilers, but I found it hard not to include some slight spoilers in this review.  If you haven’t read one of these books, or both of them, beware of spoilers.*
I read through both of these books extremely quickly, and didn’t write too many notes, so I’m just going to write one mini review for both of them, and share my notes with you:
  • I was kind of iffy about If I Stay at first.  I was worried that these books just wouldn’t live up to the hype and that I’d be the odd one out.  But after the first few pages, that doubt just slipped away.
  • I just moved to Washington state, and I don’t yet know much about the Northwest, and definitely not much about Oregon, but it seems strange to me that these characters use a lot of British terms a lot of the time. And I don’t think it’s ever explained away by British parents or grandparents or anything–I don’t think it’s ever even acknowledged.  But it happened quite a bit in both books.
  • I like how, in If I Stay, you just kind of get a glimpse of Mia and her family, and how much they care for one another, when the crash happens.  We find out a lot more about all of them later through Mia’s flashbacks, but I like how we just get a tiny feel for them before the accident happens.  And I really grew to love her parents and Teddy, and the grandparents, and all the characters, really!
  • There was quite a bit of medical stuff in If I Stay that made me anxious, but I just read those parts really quickly and tried to forget them as soon as possible.
  • I don’t like it when girls are in a relationship and they constantly wonder “Why me?”  Yes, I know that phrase goes through probably every girl’s mind at some point in a relationship, but harping on it really bothers me. I understand low self-confidence, and low self-esteem.  I do.  But it’s like the females of the world have been indoctrinated to feel inferior, not special, not unique, unworthy.  So while yes, I know it happens, and probably a lot, it makes me so sad and mad when it happens.  So I really don’t like reading about it in books, no matter how realistic it is.  And Mia feels this way at least part of the time in If I Stay, and I didn’t like it.
  • Bonus points for the Harry Potter references in If I Stay.  Double bonus points, actually, because it’s about siblings bonding over the books!
  • Very sad parts, and although I didn’t cry (I hardly ever cry at books), I got very close at one part in If I Stay.
  • I really like how Where She Went is from Adam’s point of view, and how we get to see his life as a famous rock star.  I also think it was really clever that their relationship didn’t work out perfectly, and that it shows that his life is not at all glamorous.
My rating for If I Stay by Gayle Forman:
4 stars.  I really enjoyed the action at the beginning, and all the flashbacks showing her relationship with Adam, her family, and her friends.
My rating for Where She Went by Gayle Forman:
4.5 stars.  I think I liked Where She Went a bit more than If I Stay, but they were really close!


Find If I Stay:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Penguin Group

Find Where She Went:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Penguin Group

Disclaimer:  I purchased both of these books myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. Asheley (@BookwormAsheley)

    January 2, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    When I first read If I Stay, I felt like an odd man out because I didn't cry at all. I didn't understand all the hype. It was a good book but I didn't feel it was THE book, ya know. So I waited a while and listened to the audiobook and while I still didn't cry and think it was THE book, I liked it better. Now, Where She Went is a different story. I listened to the audiobook, which is read by one of my favorite narrators and is a male POV, which tends to be something I love more anyway. And I already loved Adam more than Mia. I would say that Where She Went is one of my favorite books ever which is really interesting given my nonchalance for the first book. And I DID cry at Where She Went – I couldn't help it. And I don't cry at books that often! (:

  2. Bittner

    January 3, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Yay! I'm so relieved you liked these books! I agree about the "why me" complex. Maybe this philosophy is only coming because I just finished reading The Secret, but it almost feels like the Law of Attraction is at work here. Yeah we all know self esteem is a common problem in young adults, but constantly having that reflected back at us only encourages those feelings. Boys grow up reading comic books and feel invincible, girls grow up reading "why me" books and end up feeling unworthy.

  3. Brandi Kosiner

    January 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I agree very sad parts, its been so long though I don't remember much else. Glad you went from iffy to enjoying though

  4. Brittany S.

    January 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Yay so happy you enjoyed these so much! I love these and I am IN LOVE with Adam's POV in Where She Went! It just feels so raw and imperfectly beautiful. Lovely points!!

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