Monday, July 6, 2009

If I Stay

If I Stay
Gayle Forman

It was such an easy decision – a snow day – a trip out with the family to visit friends. A decision that ends three lives and puts the fourth in jeopardy. Mia loves being with her family, they are close-knit – her parents are what people my age would call “cool.” But on this snowy day, there is an accident. Somehow Mia’s consciousness is thrown from her body and she wanders around the accident site, noticing the bodies of both her parents. She cannot find her brother Teddy, but after the rescue workers arrive they mention him so she thinks he will be ok.

Mia travels along with her body, first to the local hospital and then to the Trauma Center in Portland. Although she is aware that her parents are dead, she is dispassionate about it, and disconnected from what’s going on around her. Eventually she becomes aware of the fact that Teddy too is dead and although her grandparents and friends are still alive and desperately want her to get better, Mia becomes aware that whether she lives or dies is her choice. Fairly unemotional at first, as it gets closer and closer to her having to make a decision, she becomes more aware of the ramifications of the actions.

In the quiet corner of the ICU I start to really think about the bitter things I’ve managed to ignore so fare today. What would it be like if I stay? What would it feel like to wake up an orphan? To never smell Dad smoke a pipe? To never stand next to Mom quietly talking as we do the dishes? To never read Teddy another chapter of Harry Potter? To stay without them? I’m not sure this is a world I belong in anymore. I’m not sure that I want to wake up.

Mia has to decide – does she want to stay, when those who matter most have already gone?

This was a wonderful afternoon read. It’s very different emotionally from the other tear-jerker I read this weekend, Would You, but I really liked it. Most review sources have it recommended for high school and I would agree with that assessment, although I think mature eighth graders would enjoy it.

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