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Book Reviews
July 8, 2010 posted by Christina

If I Stay – Gayle Forman

“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?

Pages: 259
Publication Date: April 2009
Rating: : ★★★★★

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.”

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  • Wasn’t this book incredible? I loved it so much.

    • Yes! I started reading at four today and I just couldn’t stop. I finished reading it in three hours.

    • The first time I read this book i couldn’t put the book down! And when I read Where She Went I cried because the ending is so perfect and there were so many touching parts!<3 I don't know if they're making another If I stay movie for the 2nd book but I think they should!!

  • Wow! Christina, your review makes me want to run out and buy this book! You’re alright!

  • I reviewed this a while back and wish I could have written as beautifully about it as you have. It’s an extraordinary book and the characters are still rattling around in my head months after I read it. Great review.

  • Wow this book looks stunning. I really want to read this now. Excellent review.

  • I have this book.I haven’t read it yet.I will now with this great review.

    • ho can u have this book and not read it? i started 2 read it as soon as i saw the title!

  • I made the mistake of reading this book on a bus, so I ended up sobbing in front of total strangers. Such a powerful read. Great review!

  • This looks so good. And your review is awesome I just got goosebumps.

  • Oh my…christina…a very beautifully and delicately written review. I felt your passion and emotions from this review. The book ertainly left a huge impression on your heart. I so want to read this book but in time, as I know I will empathise with this novel, due to past circumstances.. and from what you wrote,I know that the novel also leave a marked impression on me too.

  • Thanks so much everyone! This really was a great book, I hope you all get a chance to read it and love it as much as I did

  • This is a great book – I loved it! It was sweet and sexy and spooky in a questioning-my-own-mortality way.

  • I finished reading this book last night and thought it was great. Not many books make me cry!

  • my god! no book has made me cry as much as this book! The book was all-around amazing!

    • totally agreeing !! it was a real powerful story… and that got me scared. Mia was so normal… that could happen to anyone!!

  • I’m reading this book now and it doesn’t seem like a book to make me cry… i was wondering… around what time does it make me cry? end? middle-end?

    • towards the end. 😀

  • This review inspired me to read the book even more than i already wanted!!!! Great Review

  • i LOVED this book. it was so motivational and really inspiring. i cried so much. It was sad, heartbreaking and totally moving. its on of those books i can read again and again and again.

  • The book was pretty good, i think the last sentence though made the book overall.

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