“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.”
If I Stay is without a doubt one of the most powerful books you’ll ever read. At just 17 years old, Mia’s life is only just beginning. She has a beautiful and loving family, a great boyfriend, a caring best friend, as well as being a talented cellist who is on the verge of being accepted into the prestigious Julliard. On a day that started out as an innocent family outing, a car accident brings her life to a grinding halt as just about everything she cares about is taken away from her.
Stuck in a limbo state, her spirit looks on as doctors struggle to put the pieces of her battered body together. With only the ability to helplessly look on as the news of the accident gets around, Mia is left with one choice: should she live or die?
To say this book is a page turner or unputdownable is not really enough. This book is both heartbreaking and moving, but above all, beautiful. It’s one of those stories that has the unique ability to transcend above the YA category to speak to readers of all ages.
If I Stay reveals human nature when it’s struck by one of the most crippling emotions: grief. It shows how grief affects people differently and can bring people together when your world has been taken apart. This grief is demonstrated by two sides – by Mia as she comes to terms what has happened to her family, as well as when she contemplates death, she grieves for her own life and the possibilities that seem lost to her now. Grief and worry is also shown by Mia’s relatives, some are reduced to tears, others stay strong while some opt for distraction and denial.
The story is skillfully written, really gripping you with Mia’s progress while also taking you back to Mia’s memories and we slowly get to know more about her and how much she’d be leaving behind if she decides to go.
All the themes and issues in If I Stay all come back to one main point – love, in its many forms. The love between family, the love Mia has for her boyfriend, best friend and the love she has for music. This love is what makes the difference when deciding on choosing life – can you still love after you’ve lost? Is it enough and is there love in places and in people right there where you never thought to look? On top of all this, not once do you feel the story is getting melodramatic or sappy.
The characters are incredible in If I Stay and what makes some of them so powerful is their subtleties in the way they convey their thoughts and emotions. One of the stand out was Mia’s Grandpa, he was a strong silent man but in a few lines and simple gestures he could melt your heart. Mia’s brother Teddy had a sweetness that only comes with being so young while her parents and boyfriend, Adam showed depth not only in their love for Mia but also in their way of thinking. Her best friend Kim had such great wit and humor that helped to lighten the story.
Can I say anything bad about this book? Not really, other than it’ll make you cry, no, ball your eyes out, so I’d suggest arming yourself with a box of tissues.
If I Stay is the type of book that will linger in your heart and long after you turn the last page it will make you ask, if you had the choice, would you stay?
Publication Date: April 2009
Teaser quote: “Stay.” With that one word, Adam’s voice catches, but he swallows the emotion and pushes forward. “There’s no word for what happened to you. There’s no good side of it. But there is something to live for. And I’m not just talking about me.”