Year published: 2009

Stars: 3.5 out of 5

Synopsis: Mia Hall has everything. A scholarship to Juilliard forthcoming, liberal parents who adore her, a younger brother who is the light of her life, and Adam, a punk-rocker boyfriend who is the perfect contrast to her classic cellist.

Her world is smashed, literally, when an awful car wreck kills the rest of her parents. But she is caught between; no longer living, not yet dead. It becomes clear that she has a choice: let go, slip into the abyss, or fight to stay.

Review: Holy shit.

Okay, first and foremost: fuck USA Today. Gayle Forman has more talent in her little finger than Stephenie Meyer has in her entire body.

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Secondly: this book is amazing. Its length betrays its power (it only took me three and a half hours to read after running into the trailer for the forthcoming movie). Forman writes in the way I hope to: able to spin a parable while focusing on seemingly minute details (the Sonic Youth tee shirt, the heart-emblazoned nails of one of the nurses, the rustbucket Celica that turned into their tomb), conveying a character not quite through actions (because the only action poor Mia really has is her choice), but experiences and details.

It's told nonlinearily (which isn't a word but you get it), and it's a style I love and one that I've dabbled with in the past (Zero Hour shameless plug) and it's damn hard to get right. As a result, not everything feels relevant, and some parts feel like padding (the most obvious is when a famous punk rocker shows up to help Adam sneak into the ICU past visiting hours...it just feels unnecessary, but it added about fifteen iPhone pages).

However, tension drips of every page, you hang on every word, hoping, praying that she wakes up, even when Mia herself doesn't want to.

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The Fault In Our Stars or Perks of Being A Wallflower fans will love it. The e-book version costs $4.99 and is worth triple that, easily.