Date: 12th July 2016
Format: ARC Paperback
Source:Thanks to Hachette NZ
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.
I'm Still Here was first published in French and has now been translated into English. It is beautifully written and the story engaged me all the way through. Imagine being in a coma and being able to hear but not to be able to move anything or communicate with the outside world. Worse really than being in solitary confinement, especially as you listen to medical staff informing your family that nothing can be done, that they ought to sanction all the machines to be turned off and let you go.
The story is alternately told from two points of view. It starts with Elsa and then chapter by chapter rotates with Thibault. When Thibault accidentally finds himself in Elsa's room he sees it as a kind of refuge. But soon he is intrigued by this girl and he talks to her in a way that no one else has. While this part could be a little far fetched the beauty of Elsa and Thibault had me totally believing! Elsa looks forward to Thibault's visits, and her body responds in little but unmarked ways. She wants to wake, she wants to open her eyes, but can she?
Thibault has issues with his brother a few doors down in the hospital - while driving drunk he has had an accident and killed two girls. Thibault cannot forgive him, does not want to visit him. This is how he has ventured into Elsa's room, avoiding his brother. How will all that play out?
Thibault has a married couple who are his very good friends. He is about to become the godfather of the little one and he loves her. He has always wanted children and his heart is so open to them.
How does all this end? Well I am not giving it away. Let's just say that I was on team Thibault and up until the very end was unsure how it would all end. If you have the chance, reach for this book, it won't take long to read, and I am sure you'll become totally charmed too.