Do Readers Need Closure?
By Karen Ballum on June 05, 2012
I really do believe closure is important to readers. When I close a book I don't need everything to be tied up in a neat bow but I do like to believe that the characters are where they need to be. It may not always be a place I like, or that the characters like, but it needs to be the right place. Gayle Forman's novel, Where She Went, was really about Adam's search for closure. He desperately needed it.
"Standing here, in this quiet house where I can hear the birds chirping out back, I think I'm kind of getting the concept of closure. It's no big dramatic before-after. It's more like that melancholy feeling you get at the end of the really good vacation. Something special is ending and you're sad, but you can't be that sad because, hey, it was good while it lasted, and there'll be other vacations, other good times." Page 223
No one can deny Mia's loss was staggering, but Adam's life changed the day of the accident as well, only no one was there to see him through it. Then when Mia left, he was truly alone. He didn't get to say goodbye. He'd lost part of his chosen family -- the Hall family -- completely then but he wasn't supposed to mourn them the way he needed to. It was hard for him. Yes, he found a way to channel his grief but it was at most temporary solution. When we catch up with him three years after the accident and with more success than he ever dreamed of having, he was a wreck. Without finding a way to grieve and finding out what happened to Mia -- why she ejected him from her life -- he might never have found his way back. He needed closure.
Gayle Forman has said Adam and Mia didn't have closure at the end of their first book. She tried to put them behind her at the end of If I Stay but they kept banging around in her head telling her they weren't happy -- that she hadn't finished with them yet. Now, at the end of Where She Went she's confident that she's done with them. Their voices are no longer speaking to her. She has different characters in her head now -- new ones -- whose stories need to be told.
I think it must always hard for an author to end a book. I loved where Gayle Forman ended If I Stay. I thought it was a spectacular ending. But had she not written Where She Went I would have always wondered about Adam and Mia and what happened to them. I'm glad she wrote the second book, even though she hadn't originally intended to write it. I am also glad she's not planning to write more of their story. I like where we left the characters. They have closure and so do I.
As a reader how do you feel about closure? Do characters ever bang around in your head after you finish a book?
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