“If music be the food of love, play on,” writes William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night, but that could just as easily describe If I Stay. It is one of those novels I couldn’t put down.
Classical music runs through the veins of seventeen-year-old Mia and it is that which helps her decide whether to stay or go, live or die, when others she has loved have not. It is music that is the heartbeat of her relationships and music that keeps her grounded.
Dealing with teenage tragedy is a dicey subject and often leans towards the macabre, but author Gayle Forman found the key to documenting the history of a girl near death from a car accident without losing the art of storytelling. Forman interlaces the beeping of intensive care monitors with flashbacks to life before the accident, giving the reader glimpses into the relationships of the people in the waiting room, and the girl they hope will survive. By the end we feel know Mia as well as her family and friends, and with them are rooting for her to live.
I am reminded of CLN member Loretta Ellsworth’s Heartbeat, and both titles would be wonderful discussion starters for any middle or high school class.
—Heidi Håvan Grosch, educator and children’s literature enthusiast
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