Sunday, August 9, 2009

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

It's the strangest thing. One minute, Mia was enjoying a weekend drive with her family. The next, she was standing by the side of the road looking down at her own mangled body. She watches from outside herself as the paramedics load her into an ambulance, and whisk her away to the trauma unit. Now, Mia faces the most difficult decision of her life. Should she wake herself from the coma and face life alone? Or should she let herself go and rejoin her lost family?

The emotional punches in this book hit in just the right places. Mia's love for her parents and devotion for her brother make it very convincing that she'd want to die with them rather than live alone; her love for her best friend, boyfriend and grandparents provide valid reasons for her to stay. Her dilemma is very real, and not at all the angst-fest it could have turned out to be.

Mia's story is an examination of not just one life, but of how the lives of people who love each other intersect. It's not just Mia's life that passes before her as she tries to make this impossible decision. Her life is inextricably tied to the lives of the people who love her, which makes her choice all the more difficult. Ms. Forman manages to make this book both bittersweet and feel-good, which is a feat in itself. I'd highly recommend this one.

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