This book deserves at least 4.5 stars, but I just can't give it 5. I will tell you why: Lost objects? Hmm. And the end just seemed a little too typical. But let's not start there. Let's start at the beginning, where a girl doesn't know where she is or who she is, just that she's dead. She sees all these objects in what she calls "is" and goes after them, only to be taken back to memories of her previous life. They are all moments where she had lost something, so she goes back and learns from each session in her life. A lost key chain takes her back to getting into Gabriel's car for the first time, a lost sweatshirt takes her back to a high school class, and a lost rattle takes her back to infant days. That was a very neat scene.
She eventually learns that her name was Madison Stanton, that she had a family including a pregnant sister, and that she can't remember anything after age seventeen. Madison remembers a lot more about her life after several attempts of going back as well, such as her best friend's mother's illness, falling out of a tree when she was young, and taking a road trip to Disney with her family. The whole time she keeps trying to figure out how and when she died, and why she feels other ghosts in her memories.
This book felt so different to me, and I absolutely loved that it was written in first person AND present tense. That's almost an automatic 4 stars. This novel could not have been written in past tense and felt as powerful. The confusion, the discovery, and the grief of it all is felt much greater because the reader can experience these events with the narrator. The author's take on what the afterlife may be gives hope to the unknown as well. No one knows what's out there, but this version wouldn't be so bad.
As for the loss of a half a star, I felt like this was a strange take on the afterlife. It being a YA novel, it had to wrap up fairly neatly, and it really did. I like the happy ending every time, but it was sort of obvious where it was going. It was sad in a way, but I really enjoyed it anyway. I was sucked in by the first few words, but towards the end I kind of figured it would end the way it did. Also, what ever happened to the mother? I would have liked to have heard about that. But with everything else considered, this is a very, very good YA novel! Definitely recommended.
(And I think I only got the audio book because it was narrated by Tavia Gilbert (as in the Night Huntress series narrator. Lucky thing I picked this one up!)