Elsa has been in a coma for five months. With all hope of reviving her gone, her family and doctors are having to face the devastating fact that it might be time to turn off her life support… They don’t realise that in the past few weeks Elsa has regained partial consciousness; she knows where she is and can hear everyone talking around her bed, but she has no way of telling them she’s there.
Thibault is in the same hospital visiting his brother, a drunk driver responsible for the deaths of two teenage girls. Thibault’s emotions are in turmoil and, needing a retreat, he finds his way into Elsa’s room. Seeing her lying there so peacefully, he finds it hard to believe she is not just sleeping.
Thibault begins to visit Elsa regularly. As he learns more about her through her family and friends, he begins to realise that he is developing feelings for her. And when he talks to her, he can’t help feeling that she can hear his every word…
For Elsa, his visits are like a breath of fresh air. Here is finally someone who speaks to her as if she is a real life person. Who makes her laugh. And who gives her something to fight for…
And so begins a love story that might just save both their lives…
I’M STILL HERE by Clilie Avit is a heart wrenching story of illness, family dysfunction, grief, love and loss. The story follows the lives of Elsa and Thibault by alternating between the two characters’ narratives which allows the reader to experience their feelings for one another from more than one perspective.
What I really enjoyed about this book is that it’s more than just a typical love story. This book is unique in it’s ability to weave so many elements of the characters’ lives into one seamless yet complex tale. The story deals with difficult subject matter such as traumatic injuries, suicide, and grief while also managing to inspire a sense of hope and romance. In short, the story has a tremendous amount of depth for such a short novel.
Additionally, I’M STILL HERE left me feeling an extraordinary amount of suspense. With each new chapter I was left with more and more questions about Elsa’s fate. Just when I thought I had figured out the ending there would be a new detail revealed which would completely throw my hypothesis off course. The unpredictability of the book left me feeling hopeful for a happy ending between Elsa and Thibault while also planting enough seeds of doubt that I really had no idea what to expect. I can honestly say that the last 3-4 chapters of the book completely took me by surprise–I did NOT see that plot twist coming.
Overall, I have to say that I absolutely loved this book. It’s a quick read (4-5 hours for me) and I consider it to be appropriate for anyone fourteen years of age and up. Due to the subject matter pertaining to suicide I would recommend parental guidance for anyone under the age of fourteen. I’M STILL HERE is the perfect blend of tear inducing heartbreak mixed with a sprinkling of laugh-out-loud funny moments. If you’re looking for a light summer read that will hook you in from start to finish then I would recommend you stop by your local bookstore in August when this book is released! It will definitely be worth the wait!
As always, thanks for reading!
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The edition reviewed above is the English translation of the book which will be available for purchase in August 2016. The thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.