Sunday, June 23, 2013

Review: Send Me a Sign

Send Me a Sign
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Published: October 2, 2012
384 pages
5 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. One sign she didn’t expect to look for was: “Will I survive cancer?” It’s a question her friends would never understand, prompting Mia to keep her illness a secret. The only one who knows is her lifelong best friend, Gyver, who is poised to be so much more. Mia is determined to survive, but when you have so much going your way, there is so much more to lose. From debut author Tiffany Schmidt comes a heart-wrenching and ultimately uplifting story of one girl’s search for signs of life in the face of death.

I like to play a game with books that are hard to find. For some reason, my two bookstores up here in Timmins did not want to carry this perfect book, so I started my mission: whenever I went home to Toronto, I would search the bookstores for this book, knowing that when I find it, it would be a sign to read it. Now, I searched far and wide, but I wasn't having any luck. It slipped my mind for about a month, until I decided I was going to buy a novel writing book online. Now, non fiction has never been a game for me, so I was going to buy this book either way. Than I saw Send Me a Sign sitting in my online shopping cart and I knew that was my sign to finally buy it. The minute it arrived in the mail, I had an itch to read it, but I had to finish the book I was already reading. When the day came that I could finally dive into it, I didn't want to come up for air. If I didn't have to work, this book would have been done in one sitting. Ya, it's that good.

Mia captured me from the first page. A popular girl with everything she could dream of: good friends, a would be boyfriend, and a supportive family. High school parties fill her weekends and now that it's summer, she's ready to spend her days by the pool with her girls. This all changes the minute she finds out she has leukaemia and the second she decides to keep it a secret from her friends. The only person she lets in is her friend Gyver, after hearing a song on his iPod that she takes as a sign to tell him. As she lies to her friends all summer while getting chemo, she gets closer to Gyver as he helps her through this hard time. But when September comes and she's about to go back to school, knowing it will be a lot harder to keep everything secret, she relies more on Ryan's support, her maybe boyfriend who is in her crowd at school. It's not so easy to keep cancer a secret and Mia soon realizes how much work it is to be sick and try to pretend she's fine.

Everything felt so real in this book. While Mia was in the hospital for chemo, short paragraphs and fleeting scenes made it seem much too real. I felt for Mia as she tried to hide her sickness from her popular friends and hated when her live started to all apart. It's hard to say if I would react the same way she did, but her actions made sense for her character and I wanted her to get what she needed. The love triangle was one of the few that I actually understood. I'm usually against these, but in this case it made perfect sense. Lines are crossed and the signs that Mia may have seen if she weren't sick broke my heart. I was rooting for one, but the other had my heart as well since they both took such good care of her throughout her treatment. 

Each chapter struck me with a new emotion. I had a feeling I'd know how this book would end, but every new chapter made me rethink my logic. Gyver made me laugh and Mia's mom made me cringe. Mrs. Rosso made me smile and Hil made me want to strangle her. One second I was laughing, the next I was curled in a ball and crying my eyes out because I wanted Mia to be okay. It was the perfect mix for a book like this. Mia would be going through all the same emotions, happy one minute and then remembering she may die the next. She focused so hard on trying to live her life the way it was before she had cancer that it crashed down on her like she'd broken a leg off a table. Everything she goes through is the saddest metaphor for cancer. Things change, people change, you change. Some relationships may get better, but others will probably fail with the intensity of the situation. I hate that this book felt so real because it broke my heart to read about Mia's life as though she were my friend going through this horrible disease. Mind you, that is also why I loved this book desperately. 

Schmidt is a beautiful writer. I first discovered her online when I watched a short video of her reading an early scene from the book where Mia tells Gyver about her cancer. I knew from the five minutes she read from this book that I would fall in love with Mia and hope for someone like Gyver for support. When I finally read that chapter in person, and I discovered a Something Corporate reference, I knew there was no going back. This is one of the best "cancer" books I've read (though I really don't want to call it that because it was so much more) and it is heartbreaking, yes, but it is also so uplifting and encouraging that I knew I had to put more into my life because of it. I hope somewhere out there girls like Mia are getting there own good news and good support from their friends in a time where everything seems like the end. 

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