A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Parents could use this book to discuss the difference between casual high-school relationships and truly life-changing ones that can impact someone forever. Mia and Adam's success is an example of the importance of fulfilling your personal dreams even if it takes you far away from someone you love.
Lots of mature messages about grieving the loss of your family but knowing they are always a part of you. Also, learning to let go of your first love -- and embracing a second chance at romance.
Positive Role Models
For most of the book, Adam's filled with angst and rage. He imagines hurting people who've provoked him, and he recalls times he was cruel and lashed out at people, some of them friends, because of the pain that Mia has caused him. Despite his many flaws, it's good for teens to read about someone who seems like he has a perfect "celebrity" life but is in fact experiencing so much anguish and insecurity. And in the end he is able to gain some important coming-of-age insights.
Violence & Scariness
In his anger and grief, Adam thinks about "smacking" a reporter and paparazzo, pushing someone he loves against a wall, and hurting his bandmate. His anger can be volatile and disturbing at times, and he lashes out at several people in the book.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Twenty-one-year-old Adam admits on several occasions that he's been with "more girls than he can count" since his break-up. He recalls some of his more memorable one-night-stands with groupies (but never graphically). Cohabitation and pregnancy are also mentioned. There is one slightly more detailed passionate night described in the book, but it mostly focuses on kissing and caressing and then alludes to the build-up and aftermath on the sofa and bed.
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Stronger and more frequent than in comparable YA novels: "f--k," "assh--e," "s--t," "prick," "dick," "bitch," "pissing," "damn," and the occasional exclamation of "Jesus" and "Christ."
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Products & Purchases
iPod, Armani, and a slew of musicians -- Fugazi, the Rolling Stones, Sufjan Stephens, The New Pornographers, and classical virtuosos like YoYo Ma and the late Jacqueline DuPre -- are all name-checked in the story.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adam is a chain-smoker and mentions how he started smoking and can't stop because it calms his nerves. Drug use and drunken behavior, as well as one minor character's substance abuse, is referenced as part of Adam's rock-star lifestyle.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this angsty coming-of-age romance is the dramatic sequel to Gayle Forman's tearjerking New York Times bestseller If I Stay. Adam's anger can be volatile and disturbing at times, and he lashes out at several people in the book: He thinks about "smacking" a reporter and paparazzo, pushing someone he loves against a wall, and hurting his bandmate. There's lots of mature language and mature material (Adam admits on several occasions that he's been with "more girls than he can count" since his break-up). The messages (grieving the loss of your family but knowing they are always a part of you; learning to let go of your first love -- and embracing a second chance at romance) will also connect better with more sophisticated teen readers.
Is It Any Good?
Forman again expertly explores tough topics such as grief and letting go of love, this time using Adam's continued uncertainty and despair to create the dramatic tension in the novel. As in If I Stay, the author effectively intersperses the present with flashbacks that fill in the gaps of the three-and-a-half years since Mia's accident. It's satisfying to get Adam's perspective on the difficult months after Mia wakes up to discover she's entirely orphaned, and also hear him relate the earlier days of his relationship with Mia -- including how wonderful the Hall family was to Adam, who always felt part of the clan. His feelings are understandably raw throughout the book, and he expresses them well in the lyrics of fictional album Collateral Damage. Forman beautifully describes the heartache Adam faces when seeing Mia again, and how it feels having to be pleasant and overly formal with someone you want to either kiss or hurt.
The story's one-long-night-together format is somewhat reminiscent of the classic romantic film Before Sunrise, except instead of young strangers on a train who quickly fall in love, this book's focus is in on a young couple that never stopped being in love -- but also has no idea how to move past the damage they've endured.
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