I meant to read this young adult novel before I watched the movie but I caved and watched the movie first (which I liked by the way). If you’ve seen the previews for the movie starring Chloe Grace Moretz, you know the basic plot of this novel. A young woman, Mia, is involved in a car accident while driving on a snowy road in Oregon with her mom, dad, and younger brother, Teddy. At first she doesn’t realize the severity of what has happened because she seems fine and uninjured and then she sees her own body lying in the snow. Mia doesn’t actually hover over the scene of the accident but instead simply climbs in the ambulance and follows her body to the hospital and watches as family and friends gather to stand vigil. Mia has to make a choice—should she stay and deal with the pain and loss that await her or should she go? This choice is made all the more difficult by her love for playing the cello and her love for her boyfriend, Adam.
The story moves back and forth—between Mia’s memories of music, her family, and her developing relationship with Adam—and her present situation—lying in the ICU. The things I really loved about the movie—Mia’s relationship with her formerly “rocker” parents and her best friend, Kim; the conversation that Mia and her mom have about love and choices, and the way Mia and Adam’s relationship unfolds and implodes—all work even better here because Mia gets to narrate more. Things are not as neat and tidy as they feel in the movie and that makes the book even better. The only thing the movie captures in a way that the book does not is the moment when Mia makes her choice—one that is even more heartbreaking on screen than it is on the page. Yet I cried here too . . . for exactly the same reason.
There is a lot to like in this novel, but then I’m a sucker for first-person narration, stories about musicians, and novels that make you care about the choices the protagonist makes.