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Estelle: Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt

october ya book releases USSend Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt ( website | tweet )
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Walker Children’s
Pages: 384
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: cancer, popularity, secrets, superstitions
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: For a person who is always prepared and fighting to excel in just about everything, Mia is completely caught off guard when she is diagnosed with cancer. Afraid of what her friends might think, she decides to keep it a secret from everyone except her next door neighbor/best friend, Gyver.

I’ve read quite a few books recently with main characters who were popular, rich, smart, and beautiful. (See: The Princesses of Iowa and All You Never Wanted.)  I could have easily not connected with them because they were so unlike the girl I was in high school or the person I am now. But in these novels, I watched girls grow and change and learn in a way I could totally relate to, even though our circumstances were different. Both authors managed to create multi-layered stories with flawed characters who I came to understand and root for.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same experience with Mia and Send Me a Sign. I loved that she was always looking for little signals from the universe to tell her her next move (I’ve totally done this) and her friendship with Gyver was the biggest highlight for me. But otherwise, her life and her decisions and her relationships stayed pretty stagnant in almost 400 pages.

As a character, Mia was the product of two very different parents — a dad who was understanding and needed to know all the facts, and a mother would wanted to pretend her daughter was not suffering from this disease and thought Mia not sharing her diagnosis with her friends would be better for her “privacy.” In the end, this may have been the only area that Mia was able to make some kind of breakthrough in by the end of the story.

I just wish it hadn’t been the end of them.

When I pick up a book, I’m always hoping for more than a happily-ever-after. I want these characters to come to a realization — big or small — and get to the point where you believe they are about to turn a corner or experience them actively engage in some sort of change. Mia’s friends were a big part of her world. She was popular, she had the hottest guy at school at her side (not Gvyer), and she was on her way to an Ivy League college. She “had it all” or did she? I didn’t find many redeeming qualities in her friends so I understand her hestitation in confiding in them (hot guy actually seemed to have the most heart), but even by the end of the book, I still didn’t understand her need to be friends with them.

It felt like Mia’s popularity and dedication to her academics sheltered her, and I would have loved for her to bond with someone other than Gyver. In fact, I was hoping that another schoolmate, Meaghan, might be that person. There were even the injected moments of reality from a male nurse that I came to enjoy as well.

Schmidt does present readers with a unique premise, but in order for it to make an emotional impact, Mia had to be more of an anchor than she was. I felt similarly when Magan and I read Wendy Wunder’s The Probability of Miracles; I was unable to sympatheize with the main character and after completing the book, realized my emotion meter was never raised to where it should have been.

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Need a second opinion?

“Every once in a while you read a book that you’re just completely torn about. Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt was that kind of book for me. I liked it but sometimes I felt a little like pulling my hair out.” – Lori from Pure Imagination

October 18, 2012 - 8:00 pm

elena - looking for little signs from the universe is my LIFE but i don’t know how accurate it actually is. i’m sorry this didn’t quite make the emotional impact you wanted but great review! <3

October 15, 2012 - 2:12 pm

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books - The fact that Mia looks for signs everywhere was the thing that drew me towards this book – I love doing that on occasion, or trying to reinterpret things in my life as “signs”. And it did sound like such a great story! I’ll probably still read it, but at least I’m going in forewarned about the lack of breakthrough in Mia’s journey.

October 14, 2012 - 6:46 pm

Tara - Sigh… you know how I feel about this one (as it’s the same way you feel). I had high, high hopes for this book and sadly, it just fell short. I think a few tweaks in the major story lines could have made the book great, but they just didn’t happen.

October 14, 2012 - 5:22 am

VeganYANerds - This one sounds interesting, I definitely want to read it but I know I will probably have mixed feelings, too!

October 13, 2012 - 5:44 pm

Kristen Evey - Hmm… this may or may not be one that I’ll read. I’m drawn to the cover (I have this thing for dandelions), but judging from what you’ve said about it I’m just not sure if it’s the book for me. I totally agree with you. I don’t care if the characters are similar to me, but I want to see them learn and change and grow throughout the story. The fact that she is looking for little signs from the universe intrigues me though. Maybe I’ll pick it up if I see it at the library. Great review Estelle!

October 13, 2012 - 6:04 am

Lori - Yes, yes, yes to everything you said! I’m so happy to see that I’m not the only one that felt this way. I just didn’t like Mia much and I loathed her friends. I really wanted to see her come to some great realization about her life, but alas.

October 12, 2012 - 9:43 pm

Estelle - I’m glad that you had some of the same feelings as I did. I felt like I was beating myself up over how and why this didn’t work for me. There were some little details I really liked (like the beach at the winter scene and the almost end) but… you make some really great points about how we lean on men for their “protection”. It’s a genius idea that I didn’t even start to think about. Maybe Mia almost felt more trust for men because the relationship with her mom was so shakey? It’s possible. Hmm…

October 12, 2012 - 9:40 pm

Estelle - I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts. It’s a shame because I think some tweaks structurally could have made this book very moving… and it just wasn’t there.

October 12, 2012 - 9:21 pm

April Books & Wine - I liked The Probability Of Miracles, so I think I’d dig Send Me A Sign.

I’m sorry Mia didn’t do it for you and that the breakthroughs kind of weren’t there. Alas.

October 12, 2012 - 11:05 am

Jamie - I just finished this one and felt pretty similarly! Like I really enjoyed it but I was so frustrated with some of her decisions and I SO wanted her to also have a girl friend to lean on during this time. Putting everything in the hands of one person (especially when it’s a guy) is not a good idea. I mean I could kind of identify…when my mom was sick it was so much easier for me to let a guy be the one I went to. You kind of feel safe with them..like they can protect you..even though clearly they could have done nothing about the cancer growing in my mom’s brain. SO on one hand, I could identify but I really was hoping she would open up to somebody! AND I agree with you..I loved that little parts with some of the nurses. I just felt so SAD for her that she wouldn’t tell people and had to really go it alone.

Great review! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who had thought I’d be emotionally somewhere else with this novel but didn’t end up there.

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