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review: “if i stay” July 22, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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If I Stay by Gayle Forman.
Dutton // Hardcover // 208 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Mia’s life is up in the air. Literally. She’s doesn’t know where she’s going to college, she doesn’t know where things are going with her boyfriend, she’s just been in a car accident, and she has no idea where she is. Caught somewhere between life and death, Mia thinks about her life and worries about where it is going. She hovers around her own body in the hospital, watching her friends and family cope with the accident, while she tries to decide if she should stay.

A lot of this book is told in flashbacks. I still to this day remember writing teachers telling me how this isn’t allowed and wouldn’t be published. Well, Gayle Forman has proven them wrong. The flashbacks are handled beautifully and really allowed me insight to Mia’s predicament. I loved the connection Mia has to her cello and her music. I’ve played violin since I was ten years old (fifteen years now, yikes!) and either Forman has played an instrument or someone in her family has or she’s the best writer in the world.

I had one major problem with the book and that was the falling domino in Mia’s decision. I do not believe that’s what would tip the scale for me. I also know that a lot of my teen readers had a problem with the ending as well. Most of them do not believe they would have made the same decision. (I know that’s awesomely vague for those of you who haven’t read the novel, but what are you waiting for?)

This is a great book and I could easily see it finding a place on teen bookshelves for years to come. Give it to readers who liked both “The Lovely Bones” and “My Sister’s Keeper.”

SWAN catalog
Gayle Forman



review: “twenty boy summer” June 19, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.
Little, Brown // Hardcover // 304 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Three friends, plenty of room for secrets. Anna and Frankie are best friends, Frankie and Matt are brother and sister, Anna and Matt are secretly seeing each other. That is, until Matt dies in a car accident. Anna is left holding their secret inside a year later when she and Frankie begin a quest to have the absolute best summer ever by hanging out with twenty boys over twenty days. But can Anna find closure from her relationship with Matt?

I was worried at first that this novel would only wind up being a tear-jerker. Of course parts of the book are sad, but not in a Lurlene McDaniel kind of way. I found myself tearing up more at the writing and details of the characters’ lives. Several stand-out scenes remain etched in memory; in particular a passage about Matt and how he always left pennies on the ground for someone else to have some luck.

Anna and Frankie’s friendship really sold me on the novel. I really appreciated the almost sister-like relationship. Additionally, I thought that Frankie’s parents got a few nice spotlights and I really wanted to see more of Aunt Jayne, to delve into her life. (I recognize that most teenagers probably don’t want to read about the character’s parents though!)

The cover of this book fits in perfectly with the story and with the many themes within the story. This is a classic example of a cover selling the book and still selling the story at the same time. (I really want a sea glass necklace now!)

This is a stunning debut novel. Ockler writes with such a convincing voice that every emotion and situation Anna finds herself in is real and believable. Truly a layered three-dimensional work that teens will be able to relate to and enjoy.

SWAN catalog
Sarah Ockler