Mia is a fairly normal 17-year-old. She has a family she loves, a boyfriend and a best friend, and is nervously waiting to her about her application to Juilliard. Everything changes for her one morning when her family decides to take a drive to see Mia’s grandparents that live a couple of hours away – the roads are slick and they get into an accident. Mia finds herself detached from her body, observing the whole scene. Her parents were clearly killed on impact, and she watches as herself and her little brother, Teddy, are rushed from the scene with life-threatening injuries. Mia survives surgery but is still in a coma, and as a parade of family and friends comes through, alternately pleading for her to stay and telling her it’s alright to let go, Mia realizes she alone can decide whether or not she wants to live or die.
That’s it for the premise of this book (clocking in at a trim 234 pages), no twists or turns, but man alive does Gayle Forman really deliver a story. Starting with the somber, somewhat grisly description of the accident scene, Forman grabs ahold of your heart and keeps on twisting. This book is poignant but never over-wrought and is a quiet story about a girl on the edge of life, both literally and metaphorically. Mia’s observations the hospital scene are interspersed with memories of her family and friends; this not only adds some levity to the story, but also develops the characters and adds weight to Mia’s decision. It’s an interesting decision, too. What would we choose if we were put in the same situation? It’s easy to assume we would fight for our life, but what if half your family was taken from you? What if you knew staying meant having to cope with being an orphan? Wouldn’t it be easier to just let go? Forman handles these questions with a deft hand; she never over-dramatizes (something that would be very easy to do, given the subject matter) and Mia’s thoughts always seem true to the character.
I really enjoyed this story, and if you like good character studies, I would highly recommend it. It’s a quick read with some great characters and a solid story. I will definitely check out more of Forman’s writing in the future.
Oh, and side note. That little blurb on the cover there? That says fans of Twilight will enjoy this book? Ignore it. Seriously. Everything in this book feels real and I feel fairly confident in saying that none of these characters would be turned on by Sparkly Stalkers.