Review: I’m Still Here (Je Suis Là) by Clélie Avit

Elsa has a climbing accident that leaves her in a coma and completely paralyzed. She’s been in a coma for 5 months and her doctors haven’t seen any improvement. She’s connected to a bunch of machines, but the time has come for her parents to make a final decision. According to her doctors she’s only got a 2% chance of recovering, which in medical terms is pretty much a 0%, because who does ever come back from a coma. As one of her doctors says, “she’s pretty fucked up.”

What they don’t know is that she’s recovered her hearing. She hasn’t been put through a scanner in a while so they don’t know about this new development. She hears everything, and is even up to date with the latest hits thanks to the lady who cleans her room every night.

Thibault is in the hospital due to his brother had an accident where he killed two teenager girls. His brother is in the room next to Elsa’s and he’s so disgusted with him he won’t go in and talk with him. While his mom visits his brother, he goes into Elsa’s room and dtarts talking to her.

Every week, Thibault looks forward to taking his mom to the hospital. He won’t see his brother but he enjoys talking to Elsa, even though she won’t talk back. Thibault is a cynic, and his dry humor is comical at times. At first he doesn’t know Elsa can hear him, so he just goes on and on telling her whatever is in his mind.

Elsa’s internal monologue is heartbreaking. She answers Thibault’s questions, she laughs at his humorless jokes, she tries everything so she can feel him whenever he touches her hand. His weekly visits are the highlight of her life, and she wishes she could tell him they’re going to disconnect her as soon as her parents make the decision, but for obvious reasons she can’t.

Thibault’s visit awake things in Elsa, not only feelings toward him but also physically. Her body starts responding and she knows if she doesn’t try harder she’ll die when they disconnect her and she really does not want to die.

They both develop feeling for each other, if only she wakes up would they be able to act upon them.

This book kept me glued to it from the first page. I couldn’t breathe every time I was in Elsa’s POV and felt her struggle in wanting to feel, move, and talk but all she could do was hear. It was heartbreaking to see both of them trying to talk to each other, be with each other, let the other know they were there.

I'm Still Here (Je Suis Là) Book Cover I'm Still Here (Je Suis Là)
Clelie Avit
Fiction
Grand Central Publishing
August 23, 2016
304

Elsa is spending her thirtieth birthday in the hospital bed where she's lain for months after a devastating mountain accident. Unable to speak, see, or move, she appears to be in an irreversible coma, but her friends and family don't know that she's regained the power of hearing. That day, a stranger named Thibault enters the hospital to visit his brother, who's just been injured in an accident that killed two young girls. He instead seeks refuge in the room where Elsa lies, and quickly becomes intrigued by the young woman, returning day after day to sit beside her, convinced that his words are being heard. As their connection grows, the doctors deliver a devastating blow to her family. Is it possible that Thibault knows something no one else does, and can he reach her before it's too late?