2010 Speak (first published in 2009)
Finished on February 22, 2021
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
On a day that started like any other…
Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.
Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, and dying.
I'm currently listening to a pretty heavy book (The Underground Railroad) for next month's book club discussion, so after I finished my recent print book (All Shall Be Well), I wandered over to my bookcase and grabbed the first thing that caught my eye. With infrequent trips to my library (for curbside pickup), I've been enjoying the backlist titles on my own shelves and finding a few gems in the mix. I don't read a lot of YA, but I remember hearing good things about If I Stay so I thought I'd give it a try. This was the first time I'd read anything by Gayle Foreman, but it won't be the last! I was sucked in from the opening pages. The first-person narrative planted me right in the middle of the action and I found myself thinking about Mia and her family throughout the day, eager to return to the book every chance I got. The story spans the course of a single 24-hour time frame and that's about the time it took me to read it.
It's been several years since I read Eleanor & Park and The Fault in Our Stars, but If I Stay reminded me of those wonderful books. They're full of all the feelings of first love, without the annoying teenage angst that made me give up on the sequels to the Twilight and Hunger Games series. The characters are likeable and dialogue believable and yes, I'm a sucker for a good romance. And yet, while this is about young love, it's also about the love of family and friends. Foreman intersperses flashbacks in her narrative to shed light on Mia's relationships with her parents, brother, extended family and school friends, which keeps the story from focusing only on Mia's current situation.
Fans of Eleanor & Park or The Fault in Our Stars won't want to miss this book. If you haven't read those two, you're missing out! I've already placed an online request with my library for Where She Went, the sequel to this poignant novel, and may read more by Foreman later in the year.