Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt ( website | tweet )
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Walker Children’s
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.
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