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all hearthfires & holocausts

eating books. bleeding words.

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R.J. Palacio
The Chaos of Stars
Kiersten White
LeighAnn Kopans
Cherry Money Baby
John M. Cusick
The Dream Thieves
Maggie Stiefvater
Undying (Undying, #1)
Cyndy Aleo
If I Stay - Gayle Forman I started this at 10pm last night. I should know better than to start a new book right before bed, but nothing lately has grabbed me by the throat and forced me to read until there were no words left, so I thought I was safe. I was wrong.I couldn't put it down. My eyes were heavy and dry and blurry--I don't think my eyes stopped tearing after about ten pages in. I finished at midnight, and promptly sobbed. It wasn't pretty. I'm an ugly crier.This book, though? It's beautiful. Gut-wrenching, heart plummeting, twisty and terrible...but beautiful.It starts with a brief glimpse into a normal morning with Mia and her family. You get a feel for the dynamics, the outline of their shapes and how they fit together. It's not overdone--there's no cloying sweetness, no sap--but you can feel the love between them. And when it's all wrenched away from Mia in a second--literally the time it takes for your eyes to jump from one paragraph to another--you feel her confusion as she watches the chaos happen all around her, outside of herself. You feel her anxiety. She may feel separate from her grief, and the grief of those around her, but you feel it for her. You feel it when her grandfather cries. When her best friend prays. When her boyfriend holds her hand.When she realizes that she must make the choice to stay or to go, my first thought was of course she has to stay. Look at everyone around her pulling for her, begging her to fight, to live. She's only seventeen, she has so much life left. She's so talented--Julliard! And Adam! She can't leave Adam.But how do you live when you've lost so much? It's a terrible choice to have to make. I love the way Foreman constructed the story, how she wove snippets of Mia's past into it so seamlessly that it felt organic. Nothing about Mia's memories and the reason she was thinking about them felt contrived, or as a means to an end.It's a beautiful story about love and hope and identity, about what it means to be a family. About appreciating life. My heart still feels bruised and all morning I've been revisiting bits and pieces of the story. It's a story that will stay with me.(That being said I am TERRIFIED for the sequel.)