Friday, April 17, 2009

"If I Stay"

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, The Nation, and the New York Times Magazine. Her first book is a travel memoir called You Can’t Get There From Here: A Year On the Fringes of a Shrinking World. Her first young-adult novel, Sisters in Sanity, is based on an article she wrote for Seventeen.

She applied “Page 69 Test” to her new novel, If I Stay, and reported the following:
If I Stay follows 17-year-old Mia in the 24-hour aftermath of a catastrophic car accident that leaves her parents dead, her little brother in unknown condition, and Mia herself in a disembodied state in which all she can do is observe as she is rushed to the hospital, operated on, and watched over by medical personnel and loved ones.

Page 69 finds Mia being visited in the ICU by her grandparents, who are unclear if their comatose granddaughter can hear anything they might say to her. On the previous page, a nurse—not one assigned to Mia, but one who has taken a personal interest in her nonetheless—approaches her grandparents and insists that Mia is aware of everything. At the top of page 69, she goes on to say:

You might think that the doctors or nurses or all this is running the show,” she says, gesturing to the wall of medical equipment. “Nuh-uh.
She’s running the show. Maybe she’s just biding her time. So you talk to her. You tell her to take all the time she needs, but to come on back. You’re waiting for her.

Right after this, the narrative jumps to a flashback about Mia’s parents, which is how the format of the novel works, alternating between Mia’s critical day in the hospital and memories of the life that has just been irrevocably changed. But this statement from the nurse is key. A short while later, Mia will come back to the nurse’s words and recognize their deeper meaning: Whether or not to live or to let go and join her parents is up to Mia.

If she stays…. Out of unspeakable loss comes this profound choice.
Read an excerpt from If I Stay, and learn more about the book and author at Gayle Forman's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue