Friday, May 21, 2010

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Plot: 5/5
Creativity: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Impact: 5/5
Overall: 5/5

I honestly did not know what to expect when I decided to read If I Stay. I heard so many good things about it, the story looked interesting, and the cover was beautiful (I got the paperback copy), but I wasn't really sure what kind of book I was going to read. I knew it involved death, and I knew that there was a love story somewhere in it, but that was about it. I expected it to be good, but just how good, I did not know.

I have to say, this book rendered me speechless. It was beautiful. Compelling. It's the type of read that readers cannot put down, because they're so drawn into the story. There's an ineffable, amazing quality to it- I just wanted to read, and read, and keep on reading!

Mia's not your average teenage girl. She's a gifted cellist, and she's dating one of the coolest boys in school, but she isn't popular. She's quiet and studious, but she's not a nerd, either. She's the type of character that readers can't really pigeon-hole. She's just who she is, with a couple of defining characteristics. One of those things is her eccentric family. Unlike a lot of teenagers with strict, by-the-book parents, she has unconventional punk-rocker ones. On the outside, she's an unlikely offspring for her radical parents, but she loves them deeply, and she enjoys being with them. So when they decide to go on a family drive, she couldn't be happier. Little did she know their lives would change.

They get into an accident, and Mia discovers she's somewhere in between the planes of life and death. She's unconcious and in a critical condition, but she isn't dead. Not yet. Unlike her parents, who died immediately after the crash.

Forced to wander the hospital as the doctors try to bring her back to life, Mia contemplates the pros and cons of letting go, or holding on. Without her family by her side, she feels like there won't be a point in living. But if she lets go, she'll have to leave everybody else behind- Adam, her boyfriend; Kim, her best friend; her Gran and Gramps; everyone else. For a day, Mia is faced with the most difficult choice she has to make. As Mia ponders her decision, she weighs her options by observing the events in the hospital as her friends and other relatives wait for her recovery, and recalling memories of her lifetime. The readers get to glimpse into the events that shaped Mia, that made her who she is, and they get to experience her feelings as she comes closer to making her choice. The pain, the sorrow, the happiness, the love Mia felt coursing through her are all so vivid. I could practically taste the emotions. The prose took my breath away, and it really transported me to Mia's world. I wasn't just reading about her; I became her.

If I Stay is a riveting, poignant story about holding on and letting go. It's beautifully written, and though a lot of the time there's an undertone of sadness, there's an ever-present sense of love and hope. Beautiful in every way, it's a story readers will themselves thinking about long after they finish the book.


  1. Oh my, this sounds amazing! I had never heard of this book before this but now I feel a compelling need to read it!

  2. Great review, Erika! This book has been sitting patiently on my bookshelf waiting for me to get to it ... after reading your review, I think I need to go ahead and bump it up closer to the front of the list! Sounds fabulous!!

  3. Great review, a book that leaves you speechless must be really good! I cannot wait to read it. I saw that they had the dutch copy of this one at the library, but yet again somebody already borrowed it. :(
    Love that cover, so beautiful and simple.

  4. Hi! Stopping by through the Blog Hop. The First thing I read was this review and I loved it! I've added it to my Black Hole Reviews and am now going to have fun looking around your site. :)

  5. I loved this book as well. Your review is right on the money. When I read it, I ended up doing it in one day (I was up til 4am)and was crying. My poor husband thought something was wrong with me. I love how we havethe same tastes in books. I have a recommendation, I don't know if you have read it or not, but it is one of my fav's. its a few years old but still good. It's called "The Truth About Forever" by Sarah Dessen. Also, try "Two Way Street" by Lauren Barnholdt (supergood!)
    Have a great weekend, Erika!