Friday, August 26, 2011

CR Review #28: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay is a short, bittersweet, beautifully written novel about love and loss. Mia is 17 and has a pretty good life -- she is a senior in high school, applying to Julliard in NYC to play the cello, she has a loving and cool family, a smart and understanding best friend, and a beautiful and cool musician boyfriend named Adam.

One snowy morning, Mia and her family (mom, dad, and younger brother) go for a drive near their rural Oregon home, when a truck slams into her family car and kills her family, leaving her gravely injured. Mia finds herself disembodied from her physical self -- she feels no pain, but she can't feel anything. She can't be seen or heard, but she can see and hear those around her. She is rushed to a local hospital and a trauma unit does everything they can to save her while Mia's friends and remaining family members gather at her side.

Most of the story is told in flashback, and we learn all about Mia and her family, her love for classical music, as well as her relationship with Adam. And as Mia flashes through all of her memories, she begins to wonder what will be easier and better for her to do: to let go, and be with her family, or to stay and fight through the pain and her injuries.

The writing is beautiful, and I found myself tear up a few times (mostly when she described her little brother, as I have a son about his age). A short book, I read it pretty much in one sitting, but a moving one. I'll be sure to pick up the sequel "Where She Went" when I see it at the library.

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