Book Review: If I Stay
Series: If I Stay – Book 1
Author: Gayle Forman
No of Pages: 234
Release Date: 9 April 2009
On a day that started like any other...
Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left – the most important decision she’ll ever make.
Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.
If I Stay was powerful and sad. Probably the only girl in YA history who is both well adjusted and mature and she had to have everything taken away from her.
On a family drive during the winter Mia’s family car is t-boned by a semi that couldn’t stop in time. Her parents are instantly killed and Mia and her brother Teddy are the only ones to survive. Teddy is rushed to the local hospital but Mia has to go to Portland hospital because her injuries are so severe.
Mia is probably the nicest, most respectful, most mature girl in the history of YA. She loves her parents, her grandparents, and her little brother to pieces. She is in a normal stable relationship with a fellow musician who is in a rock band. Mia is strong, smart and just so normal. It broke my heart to know that she lost her family. Before the crash Mia’s only dilemma in life was deciding on whether to go to New York to study music or to stay in her small home town with her family and her boyfriend.
After the crash Mia had to decide whether to pass on or to continue living. The 24 hours that she took to decide this is the twenty four hours that we spend in her head. Mia is having an out of body experience, being able to walk around the hospital she is in and see what the people she loves are going through.
Mia’s boyfriend Adam is also probably one of the most normal male interests we have ever seen in YA, he wasn’t moody or irrational he was just a musician like Mia who happened to have the mental capacity to love. Adam supported everything Mia did and Mia supported Adam in everything he did. Adam and her best friend Kim broke into her hospital room just to see her and it was Adam who thought to bring her beloved cello music for her to listen to.
Whilst being in Mia’s head we also have a lot of flashbacks, how she met her friends, her memories of her grandparents growing up, her memories of her parents and brother. They once again ground in the fact of how normal Mia and her life had been. But they never got boring or repetitive like some flashbacks become. They were just bits and pieces of her life as she had known it and they were so masterfully done that they created a clear picture of what Mia and the people she knew had been like.
Her parents were probably the nicest parents ever portrayed in a YA novel. They were rockers who turned into loving parents who didn’t overlook what they knew their kids would be doing anyway but didn’t give them free reign either and truly sunk in the message that your parents can be your friends.
If I Stay was so powerful in the many messages that it put across. From living every day to the fullest, to loving your family and being thankful for what you have, and to cherish the people you love because you never know when they might be taken away.
I also loved the sheer irony of the situation. Leave the family and go to New York became stay in the world of the living or go with your family.
If I Stay was extremely emotional for me and I would be surprised if anyone didn’t come away with something from this novel. The simplicity of a normal person losing their family in a horrible way became a rollercoaster ride of emotions. If I Stay was masterfully written and will stay with you for a long time after the final page has been turned.
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