I've been hearing about this book forever. Some loved it, some did not. It has been compared to Twilight, which in hindsight is just WRONG but accounts for my hesitance to pick it up. Ultimately, I read it for two reasons. First, I got the sequel "Where She Went" from SIBA (reviewed tomorrow). And second, Jill said I had to. I must obey the Jill.
Before I embark on a probably unnecessary synopsis, I'll just say that it is difficult to know what to say. Dangerous territory this is, with potential for spoilers even if I'm trying hard not to reveal important things. That was my disclaimer. I shall do my best.
Synopsis: Mia is a quiet, highly gifted musician who lives to play her cello, with a hip, loving family that is fully supportive. She is likely going to attend Julliard next year, but is feeling edgy because it will mean that she will have to leave her rock-n-roller boyfriend Adam behind. Mia and Adam have a more mature relationship than most teenagers, but the cello comes above all else.
But then one snowy day, a tragic accident occurs, and Mia finds herself hovering between life and death. Mia reflects on her life with her family, her life as a musician, her life with her best friend and her boyfriend, and contemplates the merits of staying or going.
My thoughts: Stories of young love, if told without too much angst or whine, can cure what ails you. (Even if you reside in my camp, and loathe smoochy romance.) Better yet if it contains some realistic consideration about life and growing up, and doesn't dumb down to the reader. (The idea that authors feel they need to appeal to a lowest common denominator when they are writing YA really annoys me.) This kind of pleasure is exactly what you will find with "If You Stay".
Although the plot device used is not a new one, it still works because the writing is so incredibly REAL and readable - this is a one-sitting read. The entire story is narrated in Mia's voice, and...crazy, I know, but Mia is a very likable teenager! She is grounded, passionate about her music, respectful of her parents, and maintains a relationship with her boyfriend that is beyond that of a senior in high school. Mia was a breath of fresh air.
And while there is tragedy, it was never over-written or depressing. It just WAS, and Mia deals with it in her level, clear-headed practicality. To me, this felt like the perfect, comfortable young adult experience.
But...I feel like I'm blowing fluff and smoke at you. I haven't told you anything of substance. But like I said earlier, I really have to be careful not to give you too many details. This book is better left for you to explore unhindered, and will leave you wanting more as you turn the last page. But never fear, you can get more with the sequel "Where She Went". Take care that you have it at the ready!
4.5 out of 5 stars