Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2009
Yes, I’m catching up on one I missed!
After a terrible car accident leaves her an orphan, Mia is trapped in a place between life and death in the ICU, reviewing her life and knowing that her death or recovery hangs on her finding the resolve to push one way or the other.
There's no forward momentum or storyline to speak of. After a few chapters, there's no real question what decision Mia is being led to. The back and forth between the hospital drama and flashbacks to Mia's life have a vignette quality throughout, without much of a progression connecting them. It's a stretch for Mia's indecision to last the full length of a narrative that is made entirely out of pieces of her life that beg to be salvaged, and the need to rationalize that indecision to preserve the premise renders her a very passive protagonist.
What the vignettes lack in suspense, they make up for in atmosphere. A hopeful melancholy permeates and unifies the flashbacks and the present. The reflections on Mia’s slow awakening of confidence as both an artist and a person have a beautiful YA authenticity to them. Mia's family, friends, and relationship with her boyfriend are subtly drawn and believable, functional yet flawed, neither flat nor caricatured. The theme of music and the way Mia and everyone who matters to her experience it differently add a flavorful frame of reference for her meditations, which may not give cause for suspense, but do succeed in making Mia's life and recovery feel powerfully important. A pleasantly moody, rainy day sort of read.
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