Thursday, 24 March 2011

Thursday Thoughts: Review of If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Cellist Mia has just performed well in her audition for the ultra-prestigious Juilliard school, her boyfriend's rock band are becoming increasingly successful, and she has a loving family. Everything to live for... and then.

Left in a coma by the car crash that killed her parents and has put her young brother at death's door, Mia has to choose whether to live or die. Told in a mixture of Mia watching the people she lives react to her horrific accident, and flashbacks to show her relationship with boyfriend Adam develop and her growing interest in music, this is heartstoppingly brilliantly written. The characters - Mia herself, of course, but also Adam, her younger brother Teddy, her parents and her best friend Kim - are all lovingly crafted, the writing is lyrical, and the tension is built up to an incredible level - I honestly had no idea what Mia's final decision would be until right before she made it. I particularly loved the level of care Forman took to choose the music playing at various points in the book and loved the afterword when she talked about why she chose certain songs and tunes - more on that tomorrow in a piece on music in YA novels, though!

I think I mentioned when reviewing The Sky Is Everywhere that it was one of only two books which had ever made me cry, along with Jenny Downham's Before I Die. This goes one better, as I not only ended up weeping when reading it, but was crying again when I thought of the ending a day or two later! Definitely one of the best YA novels of recent years and highly recommended to everyone.

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