But those jeans weren't my favorite gift. The best gift was a book. You see, every year Matt and I exchange books and those paper backs books are always my favorite gift. He's always dead on with his selection, too. Well, one year he got me a book that actually sucked but it was from one of my favorite authors and sounded good; it just happened to be horrible. Not Matt's fault. I still haven't forgiven Ted Dekker.
Anyhow, this year Matt got me this angsty-romance young-adult novel called If I Stay by Gayle Forman. To say this was a bold move is a bit of an understatement. I mean, the whole book is about a girl in a coma deciding whether to stay on Earth or go to heaven. Giving this kind of a book to a woman whose own mother was in a coma for a week prior to her death was a gamble.
The first few chapters I read with that horrible "something is stuck in my throat" feeling. I literally thought I might not be able to read the book. The coma. The desperate family. The loved ones losing themselves. It all hit too close to home, you know?
And throughout the book there are lines--simple one sentence lines that just gutted me. Things like "That's how we manage to survive loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades so long as you hang on to it. Love can make you immortal." The implications of that. Oh the implications! How I needed to hear that truth. Love never dies. Even when those we love die--love doesn't.
I started reading this book with apprehension but I read it anyway. It hurt. It made me cry. But when I was finished, I couldn't wait to read the second book (which I read in 6 hours on my Kindle). The second book is filled with more of those heart-challenging one liners--"I can't remember. Remembering is like losing her again." Zoiks.
What I think about Matt's bold book choice is that it was the right one. He could have gotten me something light and funny. But for a person who has a hard time sharing emotions and crying, this book was the right choice. It answered questions. It brought up more questions. It brought me comfort. It brought me peace. It made me cry. And though loss is still real and painful, I felt inexplicably better by the time I closed the back cover. Now that's a good book.
P.S. Turns out If I Stay was picked up Summit Entertainment. Looks like another good book could be ruined by screenwriters soon. Stay tuned ...
Thank you to Shell at Things I Can't Say for letting me vent my sometimes depressing thoughts.