Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review of If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)
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.

For the past few weeks, If I Stay and it’s recently published sequel, Where She Went, have been two of the most hyped books in the blogosphere. Every time I mentioned that I hadn’t picked this one up, someone would yell at me to read it right away. If I Stay brought tears to my eyes and has stuck with me.

The plot of If I Stay is told through Mia’s perspective, and the story Forman has created is heart-wrenching. Hands down, characterization is the strongest aspect of this story. Mia shows the reader everything from childhood memories to the immediate aftermath of the accident and her time in the hospital. Forman identifies and describes the emotions and confusion that Mia is feeling so perfectly that my heart couldn’t help but break for her.

Some of the hardest and most enjoyable parts of this book were when Mia’s family and friends came to visit her. It was never easy to watch what they were going through, but their love and concern for Mia was overwhelmingly beautiful and eye-opening, and it was amazing to see how she responded to what them. The scenes with her grandfather and aunt had me particularly misty eyed.

What bothered me about If I Stay was the ending, more specifically the last page. Some of the details are skimmed over, and the ambiguity bothers me somewhat. However, I also can’t see how Forman could have added more details without making things cheesy. I know some reviewers might see where one option is clearly preferable for Mia over the other, making the ending obvious. However, because of a combination of my world views, sympathy for Mia’s pain and indecisiveness, each choice seemed equally valid to me and I cared about what she wanted for herself. I’ve grown more accepting of the ending after flipping through the discussion guide in my edition and having a long chat with Ashley of Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.

It’s been a long time since a book has evoked the amount of thought and discussion that If I Stay has for me. While I only spent a few short hours reading it, I have been thinking about this story for days afterwards. If I Stay is worth every emotion that comes with reading it and is an absolute must read.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

3 comments:

  1. So glad you liked it! I would love to know when you start reading its sequel! I am totally crushing on Mia's boyfriend haha

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  2. Thanks for the shout out! That's one of the greatest book conversations I think I've ever had!

    This was a great review Liz! I'm so glad you liked it, and I definitely agree that in these books, the strength is in the characters. I think that's even clearer in Where She Went. Can't wait to see what you think of that one! :)

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  3. I think I share a similar world view. I thought either choice would have been valid.

    I bawled my eyes out while reading this. I really liked the parts w/ her friends and family too, and definitely lost my composure when her Grandpa came and visited and said he'd understand.

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