A lot of the YA books that I’ve read lately imagine their protagonists in situations that the average YA hopefully isn’t in: embroiled in some dystopian marriage nightmare (The Selection); dealing with parents who beat them up/contemplating suicide (All The Bright Places); or running from people who are trying to kill them (Unwind). So it’s quite refreshing to read a book about a normal teenager dealing with day-to-day insecurities even if it is through the prism of death; seventeen year old Mia is in a car crash that kills her family and in grave danger in hospital, she has to decide if she should live or die. She runs back through her life so far to make the choice.
It’s actually this normal prism that makes the book so effective. Mia has no major issues, her family is great, she’s an accomplished musician heading to Juilliard with a supportive, steady boyfriend and we get to see inside a loving family from the gut-wrenching perspective of knowing they are no longer together. It also taps into the thought of saying goodbye to people we love, how we would do it, and how we would assess our lives if given the same choice (follow the family you love into death or stay with the howling pain of grief and rebuild your life in the role of abandoned orphan).
It’s very well written (if not a tad long for me, for what is essentially a difficult yes/no decision and a walk-back through someone’s life) and interestingly for a YA book, Mia isn’t sarcastic or markedly different from the rest of her peer group. She’s relatable, sincere and human. Pretty much like the book itself.
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