This is the sequel to the fabulous If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and this novel was even better than the first. This one is much more plot driven and not told in a series of flashbacks, like the first. Flashbacks feature, but not nearly as much.
This time the narrator is Adam, Mia’s ex-boyfriend. It has been three years since the accident that left Mia unconscious and in limbo about whether she would like to return to this earthly life or pass gently into the next. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, has enjoyed huge success, but Adam enjoys none of it. Anxiety, anger, and sadness plague his life. When Mia and Adam meet unexpectedly, they revisit the past and get out into the open all the things that were never said after her accident.
Like I said, this book is better than the first. While I enjoyed Mia’s flashbacks to scenes with her family (who are awesome characters, by the way), the events happening with Adam in real-time were for some reason much more appealing to me. And Adam’s flashbacks of the slow unveiling of what happened between him and Mia, as well as the memories of his band’s rocket flight to fame, were more interesting than scenes of domestic and adolescent life.
Mia is quite the different character too. She’s healed a bit from the emotional distress of the accident, and is much stronger for it. She’s a confident young woman on her own track to fame, though in a much different musical field. Speaking of music, I love how it plays such a huge part of these novels. At the beginning of each chapter, Forman includes a verse from each song on the album that made Adam famous, and the full songs are included in the back of the book. How interesting and authentic, for her to include a full record of tracks for her reader! Such a dedicated writer. And they aren’t terrible, either, if you can get past the self-involved and mournful nature of the pieces. The album is how Adam gets through his abandonment by Mia, so they’re quite bleak.
Where the first novel was hauntingly sorrowful, this one is redemptive and uplifting, showing that those things we counted as lost can perhaps be found again. It’s a rare and storybook-esque idea, but it’s sweet and hopeful to read about. I highly recommend reading both of these novels. I loved them as a pair.