Unlike most heroines, in YA or romance novels or mysteries or pretty much anything, Delaney is awesomely real. She mentions at one point that she has been putting on a bit of weight recently, after a sudden stop to her growth spurts (I can so identify with that; I shot up and then stopped.). Some people think she's gotten fat and some think she looks hot. Since she lacks athleticism and has no interest in working out, she watches what she eats, which she defines as eating what she wants and feeling guilty about it later. Amen, sister.
Delaney is also incredibly smart. That girl freaking loves homework. While she's in the hospital recovering, she is freaking out as much about her GPA and how she might lose the valedictorian spot as she is about her health. Another awesome thing about Delaney is that she loves libraries, like any good nerd does.
There's also something familiar in her relationships with people. The awkwardness of real connections is definitely there. Watching Decker and Delaney is imminently frustrating, but who hasn't been there or watched people not quite manage to admit to their feelings? The way that they get jealous and push one another away, avoiding the awkward dtr (defining the relationship) talk, is so true.
Even the way Delaney is swayed by guys she who express interest in her strikes me as authentic. Sure, it's not exactly role model behavior to make out with a guy you don't have any romantic feelings for just because he's looking at you a certain way does not mean it's not something a girl will do. All of those emotions are confusing and so life comes out complicated.
On top of all of that, there's also the whole vaguely paranormal plot line about death and life. Delaney's new power could be classed as paranormal, but I prefer to not class the book as fantasy and to think of it instead as her using a part of her brain humans usually do not have the capacity to.
If you love If I Stay by Gayle Foreman, you will likely adore this as well. The only thing I didn't like about this book: there's no sequel.
Note: It has since been announced that there will be a companion novel.