Dutton Books - Young Adult
I got a copy of the sequel to If I Stay from Dutton Books, so I rushed out to my public library to check out If I Stay and read the two books back-to-back. I feel very fortunate for having the opportunity to read them that way, since my library's Young Adult section, while growing, is still pretty thin and I doubt Where She Went will show up for quite a while after its release.
If I Stay is a tragic story and I'd actually avoided it because I kept hearing what a tough read it is, but I've read some difficult books. I told myself I'm tougher than I look. I look like a jelly roll. We won't go there, though.
17-year-old Mia has a lovely, funny family that she adores and a boyfriend she loves. But, she is a brilliant musician and she must choose whether or not to leave her family and boyfriend when she's offered a spectacular opportunity to continue her musical education far from home.
Then, suddenly, tragedy strikes and Mia has a completely different choice to make. I love this part of the blurb on the cover flap: "If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make."
Here's where I put up a spoiler warning. If you haven't read If I Stay, skip down to The Bottom Line!!! I'm not going to give away the ending (unless you move on to read about Where She Went, which will spoil the ending of If I Stay) but there might be some spoilery bits and I'd prefer not to ruin this read for anyone. ***SPOILER ALERT!!! You have been warned.***
Mia and her family go for a drive on a snowy day. One minute, Mia is enjoying the music, the scenery and the company of her family. The next minute, she's on the ground. She walks around and discovers the mangled bodies of her parents, then sees her own body and watches as paramedics take her away. She can hear her rescuers and follow along. She knows she's alive but she doesn't have any idea how she can see what's happening or what it means. She's afraid to find out whether or not her beloved little brother Teddy has perished along with her parents.
As Mia lies in a coma, she reflects on her romance with her rock guitar-playing boyfriend Adam, her family life, and how she came to play the cello and grow in skill. Meanwhile, she's also able to walk around the hospital, look down on herself during surgery, see people coming and going and hear what they say. I won't spoil how she comes to make her decision to live or die or even what the decision is, but the book ends on a surprisingly hopeful note.
***End Spoiler Warning***
The Bottom Line - I thought there were times If I Stay was just a little slow and it is a roller-coaster, emotional read, but I loved the story. I was crazy about Mia's family -- her father, in particular, reminded me of my own light-hearted father (whom I was constantly told was "such a cool dad") and I found the dilemma so compelling that I couldn't bear to put the book down till I finished. I liked the writing and was impressed by the musical detail. And, I loved the relationship between Mia and Adam. While the book has been referred to as "tragic," I think it's also uplifting and thought-provoking. I definitely recommend it but I recall thinking it deserved a PG-13 warning for some sexuality.
Please don't read the following review unless you have read If I Stay!!! Again, skip to The Bottom Line for my thoughts. There WILL be spoilers in the text of this review!!!
Dutton Books - Young Adult
Release Date: April 5, 2011
If you read If I Stay and enjoyed it, you will definitely want to read on. Where She Went is even better. Three years have gone by since the tragic accident that changed Mia's life forever.
When I saw there was a sequel to If I Stay, I wondered if Mia had chosen to live or die. It could have gone either way. A sequel could easily have taken her to a spiritual world or she could have become a ghost who helped Adam find new love, hence the bold spoiler warnings. I think it's best not to know in advance how If I Stay ends.
But since you've read it, you know she chose to live. Now, we find out that Mia walked out of Adam's life; eventually, the author reveals her reasons, but you're kept in suspense for the majority of the book.
Adam has gone on to become a rock star with a celebrity girlfriend. Mia is a rising star at Juilliard and is getting set to go on her first tour. While Adam is in New York, he sees a poster about Mia's debut and quietly shows up to see her perform. But, Adam is too well-known to sneak out unnoticed and Mia finds him. Thrown together for the first time in three years, Mia and Adam spend all evening and the next day together, exploring Mia's favorite sites in her new home, revisiting their mutual grief and rekindling their romance. But, both of them are scheduled to tour the world and they're going in opposite directions. Now that Mia and Adam have found each other, can they work out a relationship? Or is this goodbye for good?
The Bottom Line - Where She Went is told from Adam's viewpoint and the differing perspective gives the story told in the two books a fullness that would likely have been missing, had the sequel continued in Mia's voice. Like If I Stay, I found Where She Went utterly impossible to put down. Because Adam loved Mia's family and shared in her grief but had to grieve in silence, he's really kind of a wreck and you can't help but hope they'll at least resolve whatever caused the rift between them so that Adam will be able to move on. But the story is better than that, so much better. It is equally emotional and stunningly satisfying. For those who have read If I Stay, Where She Went is not to be missed. Again, the book contains sexuality and language, so I'd say it's a PG-13. I'm anxious to find out what else Gayle Forman has written.
In other news:
One of the reasons I mentioned that I'll have less time for blogging is that we've got not one but two family weddings coming up, this summer. Because I don't want to be the "fat mother of the groom, over there," I decided I've got to get in shape. I mentioned that to a friend, L. L told me she attends a local gym with dance aerobics classes, including Zumba, and my ears perked up. She invited me to go as her guest and I had such fun I immediately signed up for a 6-month membership.
The anecdote that goes with this tale:
At Bible study, last night, I asked one of the women who routinely goes on mission trips about the upcoming mission. The timing is all wrong, so I can't go but she mentioned the meetings and said feel free to come if you want to plan ahead for next year. L said, "Oh, we can't come that day. We have to dance," and I laughed and said it's true, we've got to groove. That perked up another woman's ears and there may soon be three of us grooving together. What fun!
So, the blogging thing:
Well, I'll just get to it when I can. There may be times that I'll need to write a week's worth of mini reviews. If so, I think I'll attempt to write them as separate posts unless I'm so pressed for time that I need to combine a few for the sake of catching up. I haven't had much reading time, lately, so that's kept me from falling too far behind on reviews. And, I'm just not going to kill myself trying to keep up, for now. If I have time to read and review, great. If not, I'll get to it when I get to it.
A Cat Tale:
Isabel jumped into the tub and chased her tail, one day (fortunately, when there was no water in the tub) and that night I dreamed that she jumped in the tub and it was filled with blue water, so as she chased her tail she turned her white fur blue. It took me a while to figure out where the blue bit came from. Husband had painted a second coat on the office walls, that day, and I'd been slightly worried that the cats, who watched in utter fascination as the paint roller went up and down, would end up rubbing against the wall and come away covered in blue paint. They didn't; both girls were actually very well behaved and didn't get in the way or into the paint.
I have a Kiddo anecdote to share, but this post is getting a bit long, so I'll save it for another day. Happy Reading!