Thursday, August 13, 2015

"If I Stay" by Gayle Forman

I checked out this audiobook while browsing for something to fill my dog-waking time. I recognized the title from bookstagram, where dozens of the instagram-ers I follow had been raving about it. I went in blind & deeply appreciated what the author managed to achieve.

Mia is an incredible cellist, born to punk-rock parents and dating a budding alt rock musician. She's at a crossroads as she wraps up her final year of high school and faces decisions about her future, her music, and her relationships. Those are all put in a starkly different light when she is gravely injured in a car accident with her family. Now she must decide if she should continue living or move on to whatever comes next.

It's a different approach for a high school coming-of-age story. Mia does spend a lot of time reflecting on her current predicament, but this often leads to flashbacks where she recalls scenes from her relationships with various characters. How she met her best friend, how she began dating Adam, when her younger brother was born, what it was like growing up among her parents' punk rock friends. Telling her life's story out of chronological order, and instead grouped by relationship is unique, and I'm impressed with how well Forman pulled it off. She is able to distill the essential qualities of each relationship, and demonstrate how they've shaped the person Mia has become.

I can't say the ending was too surprising, but it fit nicely with the rest of the novel. I was surprised to see that Forman wrote a sequel, as I felt everything was tied up nicely in this single volume. I'm curious enough to continue on, though! Kirsten Potter's audio narration was on point, and I hope she continues to narrate the next volume(s) in the series.

Verdict: Affirmed for fans of YA who want to see something structured a little differently.

"If I Stay" by Gayle Forman, published April 2, 2009 by Dutton Books for Young Readers. Audio narration by Kirsten Potter, published July 31, 2014 by Listening Library.

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