One of life's greatest joys is finding the type of book that makes you look forward to going to bed and reading it. And let's be honest, not many books are able to conjure that particular magic. Sure something can be well-written, literary or fun, but it may not have that je ne sais quoi, that invisible pull that makes it matter more than anything else competing for your attention.
I guess it shouldn't be surprising that Clelie Avit's I'm Still Here, the translation of the original French 'Je Suis La' has that je ne sais quoi in spades. From the very first page, I was entrenched and haunted all at once. The book opens with Elsa, a beautiful 20-something trapped in a coma. Her family thinks there is no sign of life, but unbeknownst to them, she is now able to hear.
Then there is Thibault, a loveable geek who finds himself in the same hospital visiting his brother, who has just killed two teenage girls in a drunk driving accident. He can't bear looking his brother in the eye, so he seeks refuge in a quiet hospital room, which happens to be where Elsa lies sleeping. He begins talking to her, and she listens to him, sparking a love story that may save both their lives.
This book is perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and romance, but I think just about anyone with a soft heart would enjoy this book. I loved the sparse, emotive writing, and the story carried me quickly through the book. It was the antidote to a long work week and is the perfect December holiday beach read.
The feminist in me found the premise of Thibault falling in love with a comatose woman problematic. What was he falling in love with exactly? Was he more infatuated than in love? She seems like a strong woman when she is unhindered by her coma - will he still love her when she is less pliable? Still, he didn't hurt anybody and Elsa loves him back, so I decided not to let my opinions get in the way of a good story.
It's definitely the kind of book that sticks with you, and I'm dying to talk to someone about it. So if you read it, let me know in the comments what you thought!