Friday, June 13, 2014

If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

       Before I get around to writing about the book that I want to gush about, I feel that I have to address the fact that recently, young adult fiction is under fire. Quite honestly, I found this article to be very upsetting and uninformed. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but this felt a bit ignorant to me. The photo included with the article displayed four YA books that I really enjoyed, and one that I planned on writing about today. Luckily, one of my favorite book/YA bloggers, Kerry Winfrey, wrote a love letter to YA fiction long before all of this went down. When everyone was going back and forth with their (sometimes strongly worded) opinions, she didn’t feel the need to defend YA because she already had. I found this move to be admirable and inspiring. She knows what she enjoys and she believes in the worth of this genre, so there’s no need to join the argument that’s swept the Internet. I guess, at age twenty, maybe YA could still be considered to be “appropriate” for me, but even so, I can see myself reading this genre into my adult life. Here’s the point of this little tangent: I like young adult fiction and I’m proud of it!
Now that that’s out of the way (phew!), let’s talk about Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay” and the second book, “Where She Went”. For starters, I loved them both much more than I expected. My interest was peaked when I saw the movie trailer for the first book, which comes out August 22. I headed to the library, picked it up, and finished it in a day. The novel is told from Mia’s point of view as she has an “out of body” experience following a tragic car accident. From the hospital halls to flashbacks of growing up and family memories, she struggles with the decision of staying with her boyfriend Adam, her grandparents, and her best friend, Kim or entering into the afterlife with her mom, dad, and little brother. Forman takes readers inside the mind of a young girl who is faced with decisions bigger than she ever thought she’d have to make and who must recognize that she is not alone. Mia weighs the pros and cons of both “staying” and “leaving” throughout the course of the novel. Let’s just say that the ending had me rushing to the library to pick up the second book, “Where She Went”, which I think I liked even better than the first—and that never happens for me with follow-ups! 
“Where She Went” is told from the point of view of Adam three years after Mia’s accident. It’s hard to write about this one without giving away spoilers from the previous book, so here’s my disclaimer: SPOILERS AHEAD! Unaware that she’s actually present, Adam sits by Mia’s bedside in the hospital and makes her a promise: “If you stay, I'll do whatever you want. I'll quit the band, go with you to New York. But if you need me to go away, I'll do that, too. I was talking to Liz and she said maybe coming back to your old life would be too painful, that maybe it'd be easier for you to erase us. And that would suck, but I'd do it. I can lose you like that if I don't lose you today. I'll let you go. If you stay.” After turning his heartbreak into a platinum album, Adam finds himself still empty and confused. When he ends up alone in New York City for an evening and serendipitously running into Mia, who is a Juilliard cello student turned superstar, everything that’s been buried between them comes to the surface for a “last chance”. Needless to say, I read this entire book in a day as well. 
Both books really make you think about what you’d do in these situations and question just how far love can go. The voices of two honest young adults make Forman’s work come to life in a way that you won’t soon forget. 
Watch the trailer for "If I Stay" here!

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