IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

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The day started out like an ordinary, happy snow day for Mia. She, her mom, her dad, and her brother pile into the car to visit her grandparents. But suddenly, Mia is standing on the side of the road staring at the mangled remains of the car.  She sees her parents lying in the road and realizes their bodies are so damaged that they must be dead.  She searches for her brother in the wreckage, and instead finds herself–her own body half buried in destroyed car parts. But Mia is not dead. As the paramedics whisk her off to the hospital, Mia follows, watching her body go through surgery, hearing the word “coma,” trying to process what has happened.  As her grandparents sit by her bedside in the ICU, the nurse tells them to encourage Mia, because really it is up to her whether she wakes or not. Mia realizes she has a choice.  As her extended family, her boyfriend, and her best friend struggle with their grief and fears, Mia wrestles with whether or not she should stay in world without the people she loved most.

This heartbreaking novel is sad but hopeful.  Mia’s internal debate in the hospital is intermingled with memories from her past, stories of the friendships and relationships that have shaped her life.  Readers can relate to Mia’s experiences of growing up, which encourages them to step into Mia’s shoes.  What would you choose?  Mia’s choice emphasizes both the incredible pain and beauty of life.  A great novel for teen readers who enjoy heavy realistic fiction.

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