In IF I STAY you have Mia, a senior in high school, who’s been in a car wreck with her parents and eight year old brother. She is in a coma and aware of all that is happening around her in the hospital. She must choose to die, or go on living without her family. This is the perfect metaphor for a coming of age story. So, I accept that wholly as a YA book. Though Mia is a bright, talented, and very mature girl. So, in this way it’s just the characterization that made it feel adult. She was in no way angsty, in my opinion. I loved that. It was refreshing and wonderful to see a teenager who wasn’t angry, depressed, or bitchy.
This was a wonderful sequel to my favorite book of 2010. It definitely lived up to my hopes and expectations. The only thing that bothered me was that the hardback cover to this book complements the paperback version of the first book. I’m sure it was a marketing thing, but it bugs me. Still, if that’s my only complaint, which it is, then I think it speaks for the story. I love Mia and Adam! I’m so happy that the author ended this book/story as she did. I thought we were headed in another direction, and I was steeling myself for that ending – one which I would have accepted, but I definitely feel satisfied with where it ended up. I hope I can write this well some day!I’m surprised these two books sold as YA books. I think these read far more like adult stories. The first one less so, but Where She Went felt very adult to me. On the other hand, I like that these are YA, and wish the norm was something that had a bit more of an adult feel, as these books do.
This is the shortest book review ever. But very simply, I love this book. I love them both.
Addendum: My friend Caitlin asked a great question on Goodreads that I wanted to add into my blog, here. She said:
I’m interested in your last comment, Jody, about the difference between YA and adult stories. Can you put your finger on what made this book “feel very adult” to you? And why do you prefer that? (I realize that this is an easy question to ask, and a hard one to answer. But I’d be interested in your thoughts.)
My answer was this (WHICH CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR IF I STAY) Well, I guess it starts with the fact that Adam, the main character is living on his own. He’s become a rock star who is dating a famous older woman, so right away there is nary a parent to become independent of or rebel against. Adam is angsty to be sure, but it is because of his love for Mia, which he himself claims was always more than a high school romance. Those questions he battles in the book: why did she leave? what happened to our love? were drawn and explored in a way much much beyond first kisses and the awkward loss of virginity. But that doesn’t account for the first book.