Most of the young adult literature that I’ve been consuming lately has been between 300 and 600 pages, making it seem like anything under 200 isn’t even a full novel. So when I picked up the wildly popular If I Stay by Gayle Forman and saw it was under 200 words, I figured it would be a quick read.
The answer to that theory, however, was yes and no—it didn’t take long to read, no, but it still took longer than a typical book of 200 words because every page was filled with thought-provoking, often poetic prose. It is the story of Mia, a musical prodigy with a loving, supportive family, gorgeous and kind boyfriend, and fabulous best friend. She leads the kind of life that we all wish we’d led as teens—normal, with passion and support, and the ability to follow her own interests with approving parents at her side. Even her younger brother is beloved rather than a pest, for the most part.
But then her life takes a horrific turn in one day, and that day is depicted in this entire book—as are some of Mia’s memories that tell us about her life and family just as vividly as if they were in present tense. The one question—which is posed as the book’s title—is not answered until the very end of the book, and by then readers will be so engaged in Mia’s story, in her family, that they won’t even know what they want the answer to be.
This novel is one of the most gorgeous, hopeful reads I’ve experienced in a while, and I’m so glad I read it. Lately I’ve been sticking to fantasy and paranormal fiction because that’s my favorite, but I saw this one highly recommended on one of my favorite book blogs and thought that I just had to check it out. I’m very glad I did.
Forman wrote a sequel to the book that I couldn’t even wait to get from the library; I had to download it immediately onto my digital reader. I’m only 25 pages in but it seems just as dramatic and gut-grabbing as the first already. It’s more mysterious, but the drama is like it was in the first book—well handled, grave without being flippant, and moving, the way drama should be. I am very excited about this author and ready to check out even more of her work.