Friday, October 18, 2019

Book Review: In An Instant

Of course I can't find it because old Sara never labeled posts super well because she didn't anticipate having a traumatic brain injury and memory loss so I can't find it, but, a long time ago I read the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman and I really loved it. Thought the follow up was absolutely terrible and don't get me started. But the concept of someone being dead, or between worlds is fascinating to me particularly I think that's where I was and I just wish I could remember it.

In An Instant - Suzanne Redfearn

Life is over in an instant for sixteen-year-old Finn Miller when a devastating car accident tumbles her and ten others over the side of a mountain. Suspended between worlds, she watches helplessly as those she loves struggle to survive.

Impossible choices are made, decisions that leave the survivors tormented with grief and regret. Unable to let go, Finn keeps vigil as they struggle to reclaim their shattered lives. Jack, her father, who seeks vengeance against the one person he can blame other than himself; her best friend, Mo, who bravely searches for the truth as the story of their survival is rewritten; her sister Chloe, who knows Finn lingers and yearns to join her; and her mother, Ann, who saved them all but is haunted by her decisions. Finn needs to move on, but how can she with her family still in pieces?

Heartrending yet ultimately redemptive, In an Instant is a story about the power of love, the meaning of family, and carrying on…even when it seems impossible.

I have to tell you I heard about this book online as a "coming soon" quickie thing (it goes on sale January 21, 2020- it's absolutely WORTH IT to pre-order it) and though it's a YA, it is absolutely beautiful and amazing and any adult will love this. With that said, I'm telling you this is 5 stars, it might be very close to the top of my list of favorite books of the year, and if you have been patiently waiting for this, it will be well worth the wait.

In this book we are with Finn and her family (mostly) but also her best friend Mo, and her close-enough-friend-to-be-family Aunt Karen, Uncle Bob, and their daughter Natalie. We have a couple of other characters but this is who we're really following. It's pretty clear that Finn's family is silently fractured but nobody is really coming out to say it so in an attempt to make family memories there is a ski trip planned and all of them are going to ride in this kind of rickety vehicle (there's 10 people, so it's fairly large and enough to move around in a bit). They get there just fine and decide they'll go out to eat and instead of dressing for weather some of them dress to impress, which turns out to be the worst decision because as they leave they realize they are in the middle of a blizzard. One wrong move on the road sends them careening off the side of a mountain and THAT is where the story really starts.

One character dies early on and that's the "voice" we are reading and the story is told from their point of view from the empty space between here and... heaven, I guess. Not only do we see how each character handles the stress and fear of being trapped in a blizzard with little to no resources, but we see how humans make desperate decisions to save ourselves sometimes. We see the true colors of people in stressful situations. (And I have to just add, there is one part where a character goes out into the blizzard and you just know it isn't a good idea and my mama heart absolutely broke, and I fully cried. There were a few parts of this that I cried which only makes me love this more.)

My favorite part of the book was not the accident and survival piece, which I thought it would be, it was how everyone handled it after the accident. Once we learn who made it and who didn't, each character handles it differently and nobody really knows the full story because we all remember things a bit differently and we all look at the actions of a person differently depending on what our recollection of the situation is.

I loved this for a few reasons, as an adult I understood the positions of each adult and I can understand the way they handled it the way they did. I can understand how, as a child, that could all be confusing for you and come off as callous. Sometimes we don't really know the thoughts/feelings of someone, but our narrator does. I absolutely loved having a dead narrator because oddly, it gives me some comfort to think maybe we really do get to see what's going on long after we go. Maybe we don't, but wouldn't it be nice to not really be gone?

I loved all of the moral and ethical questions this book raises and challenges. I love how the author shows us that forgiveness isn't about them, it's about us, that forgiving someone doesn't mean what they did was OK or just, but it means you can move on and its explained in a way that I don't think we're teaching kids. I feel like teens are going to grab onto this book and hold on until the very last page.

Not only would this been an amazing book club pick, but I know some teachers have a book club in their classrooms and I think this would be such a dynamic book choice. The even better part? The author includes an Author's Note at the end that describes why she wrote this book and how some similar events/characters inspired her to write this from her past. (It also has discussion questions to get your book club going.)

Overall?  I have to give this 5 stars. I have to. This book had me staying up WAY past my bedtime and reading at every given minute I had. Such an incredibly harrowing, emotional, and powerful read. If I could buy 100 copies of this and just give them out to every person I saw, I would. Such a great book.
An incredibly HUGE thanks to Suzanne Redfearn for finding me on Facebook and then sending me a copy of this- if I could hug you in person and bring you cookies as thanks, I absolutely would. <3 nbsp="" p="">

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Shooting Stars Mag said...

I really loved If I Stay as well!! And here's your review btw:

In An Instant sounds amazing though. I love books that hit me in the feels and make me think. Definitely sounds like something that would lead to a lot of great discussions. Thanks so much for sharing about this one, Sara!


Unknown said...

Our book club just read In An Instant. I found your blog and will be looking into If I Stay. I am wondering why you are not continuing your reading and summaries...