If I Stay by Gayle Forman | Book Review

If I stay

PUBLISHER: Dutton Juvenile
SERIES: If I Stay #1
FORMAT & SOURCE: Bought the hardcover

“In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.”- Goodreads

CONFESSION: I thought this book was about suicide before I read it. I had heard people raving about it and saying that it was sad, so I figured that it involved some kind of tragedy. I guess I saw the cover and the title and thought, “Oh right, suicide.”  Followed by the thought, “Great- I’m going to cry my face off.”

This book is not about suicide and my face is still intact.

I found the premise of If I Stay to be really strong- wildly awesome in those “Why didn’t I think of that?” kind of ways. It’s based on a couple questions: What if you lost your family and your own life is hanging by a thread? What if you had a choice?  If you had to choose, would you stay?

If I Stay bounces between present time (Mia in a coma and what’s going on around her), and flashbacks. The flashbacks were used to zoom in on certain key moments in Mia’s life.  These flashbacks were great for character development, but I found myself rushing through them to get back to “real-time”. (Because I’m impatient and I wanted to know what happens and I crave immediate gratification) I’d be terrible at the Marshmallow Experiment.

The story is sad, but I think it’s a story that you can read on public transportation without getting sympathetic glances and gentle arm-touches from the old ladies. That is, it’s not an ugly-cry kind of book. To me, it seems to be done in a way that leaves the reader a little disconnected. Mia is literally disconnected from her body during this whole ordeal, so I guess I was a little disconnected as well. My heart ached at times, but I didn’t need to break out the tissues. Actually I didn’t cry at all until I got to Gayle Forman’s acknowledgement section where she described where she got the inspiration for the premise of If I Stay.

My two favorite characters in this book were Kim- Mia’s best friend, and Adam- Mia’s boyfriend.  Both were really well-developed and well-rounded characters. Kim is a bad-ass and Adam is a sexy musician type. Mia’s family was less-well developed for me. Her parents seemed a little too cool and perfect and I found myself rolling my eyes at them a few times.

Overall, this is a strong story. It’s thought-provoking and emotional. I’m glad I finally decided to pick it up and it left me really excited to read the sequel.


SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCES BY: Yo-Yo Ma, band-camp, skinny jeans

HEAVY BOOT THEMES: death, trauma, grief

PEOPLE WHO MAY POSSIBLY WANT TO HUG THIS BOOK: nurses and those interested in the medical field, young musicians, anyone who swoons over romantic and musically inclined men. **Note:  The cover says that this book will appeal to fans of Twilight. I just want to let you know that I have no idea where USA Today got this comparison. Sure, if you liked Twilight you may also like this book, but you might also like cheese and puppies and x-men. That is to say, I really doubt there is a strong scientific correlation between people who liked Twilight and people who like this book. If I Stay is so unlike Twilight. There are absolutely no obsessive relationship dynamics going on in this story. Also, there are no vampires. Or fetuses trying to kill you from the inside. Or mouth to neck combat.

RATING:  4  thumbs up


5 thoughts on “If I Stay by Gayle Forman | Book Review

  1. I feel like I need to let a huge sigh of relief that you liked If I Stay! I’m a huuuge Gayle Forman fan so I always get so nervous when people read her books. I want so badly for them to enjoy them!
    Glad you did, and really nice review!

  2. Pingback: Where She Went by Gayle Forman | Book Review | bookburgh

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