Friday 14 August 2009

If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. M had been given this book at school after she had taken part in the Carnegie Shadowing scheme. It wasn't one of the books from the shortlist but she was just given it and she enjoyed it. She has been a bit conservative about her reading sometimes, preferring to re-read old favourites and being very hard to coax into trying something new, so I was pleased that she had been reading new stuff. I also don't read much 'teen' fiction these days. I used to read a lot when I was still reading to the children, which I have continued to do up to just a year or two ago. I really love the fact that there are so many good writers writing for young people now. A couple of years ago we found 'How I live now' by Meg Rosoff, which Tish and I both read and loved, but then you also have the whole 'Twilight' things, which they both loved but admitted were really just pulp fiction. Harry Potter also tends to get the 'read it avidly but criticise heavily' treatment. Philip Pullman remains the writer who stands head and shoulders above everyone else.
So, 'If I Stay' was a lovely book. Very teenage, because it dealt with the kind of things that preoccupy teenagers. A young girl is in a devastating car accident, and her spirit is hanging around the hospital watching the repercussions and thinking about her life and wondering if she really wants to stay alive, or if it is easier to let go. She paints a picture of a very close, loving family, a great best-friend, a cool dude of a boyfriend and a quite prodigious musical talent, everything that any young girl might want for their own life, and then you listen to her weigh all this up against the loss of her family and how easy it would be to choose to die. I think that I liked it because Mia is very sympathetic, not self-pitying, just honest. That's all really, not profound but tackles well the importance of reflecting on your life and valuing what you have.

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