I've just sat for the past few minutes trying to figure out how to start this one...and I still have no idea. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is tragic and heartbreaking, hopeful and addicting.
And I need to get the sequel right now.
Mia's life seems pretty great: a family she enjoys being around, a gift at playing the cello, a boyfriend whose band is getting ready to make it big. And it's a snow day, school is cancelled and the family loads up to drive to visit some friends. And then her life changes. Forever.
There's a wreck and her parents are killed instantly. Mia views the chaos of the wreck and her own bodying in a ditch from outside of herself. She watches the medics frantically working on her, the hospital surgeries, and the people left to handle this tragedy.
As Mia tries to grasp what has happened to her family, where her little brother is, and why she isn't dead, she realizes that the choice to survive this accident, to go on living, is hers.
She gets to decided whether she dies or lives. Dying means leaving her boyfriend, her best friend, her grandparents behind. But living means she's an orphan and what if she can't play the cello again?
As Mia lies in the ICU, she watches her friends and family visit her, talk to her, and cry for her. And we learn what her life was like through flashbacks and memories. Her life was beautiful, she just didn't know it at the time (isn't that always the truth?).
What will she choose?
This book stays with you after you're done. The choices Mia has to make and the chaos the accident caused is dizzying. I cried repeatedly during this book. The first time right after the wreck when Mia thinks how beautiful it was that her mom, her tough, protective, fierce mom, took the brunt of the impact in the crash. Once again, shielding her family from the worse. That hit a nerve.
If there was one thing missing from the book, it's that according to Mia and all that's she's experiencing, there is no heaven. If she chooses death, that's it, it's over. And I found that so hopeless.
But the story is amazing. Forman is a great storyteller and I'm heading out to get the next book, Where She Went, tonight.