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If I Stay, Gayle Forman (2009)

I’m a big fan of Young Adult lit– it’s entertaining, quick to get through, and doesn’t require too much thinking.  This one was just not a winner with me.

If I Stay follows Mia, a 17 year old Juilliard hopeful, in the 24 hours following the terrible car accident that killed her family, and leaves her in limbo, to decide whether to stay in this world, or pass on to the next.

The author’s biggest accomplishment here is also her biggest liability.  Forman creates an incredibly authentic teenage narrator.  The language is direct, and the narrator conceptualizes her world in naieve, simplistic categories.  To me, this was maddening, because 17 year olds are immature and stupid, I do NOT want to be stuck in a 17 year olds thoughts. I spent most of this book gasping “ugggh I was just like that” and wanting to crawl under something and hide from embarrassment.  So in writing from a 17 year old’s perspective, Forman does it well. Much TOO well.  She deserves some credit for that feat, but it’s not a feat that makes me want to pick up her other books.

I didn’t find the plot compelling, either.  If the rest of my family died in a car accident, and I was horribly horribly injured, that’s it, let me die, decision made.  There’s no struggle there for me.  (Sidenote: Mr. Beez LOVES shows about the apocalypse and doomsday preppers. It makes him completely insane that my apocalypse preparedness plan is “I will just die.”  I am not interested in wandering the earth in desperation, struggling for survival.)

YA is a hot genre right now, and there is no shortage of interesting new authors.  If you’re interested in picking up a YA novel, there are plenty of other better ones out there for you.

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