The plot was somewhat unique in that most of the story was told in back flashes. There was a forward-moving plotline, but it was slow and pretty simple—Mia has been in a car accident that has killed her parents. She is now in an in-between place, watching what is happening to her body as she lies in the hospital in a coma and must decide to wake up to stay with her boyfriend and live out her love of music, or go on to be with her family. It was a slow-moving plot, but the flash backs were interesting enough to keep me reading.
The story focuses on Mia’s immediate family—her parents and younger brother, Teddy. Her boyfriend, Adam, and best friend, Kim, were also pretty major players. I think my biggest issue with the characters was that they all seem just a bit too perfect. Most of the flash back memories were good times. I get that because when you’re in between alive and dying, who wants to think of the bad times? But I think those memories would come whether you wanted them to or not. Even the good memories could have shown more flaws. But really, Mia’s life comes off as perfect before the accident. Her major issue in life is that she doesn’t really fit in with her amazing boyfriend’s friends and has to decide whether to go to her dream school far away from him or stay with him and give up on her passion of music. Not that it’s not a major decision, I just don’t know how many teens will connect with the characters.
I actually thought there would be more emotion in this book. I was expecting a tear jerker, but I didn’t have to break out the tissues once. The writing wasn’t bad. Definitely written on a YA level, maybe even a tad younger in its simplicity and starkness, but I just wanted more in every scene. More description, more emotion.
I did end up enjoying it, though not as much as I’d hoped. I’m looking forward to the movie and seeing how it compares, how they handled the back flashes and the emotion of the story. I think my biggest problem was that I didn’t feel enough of the weight of her decision. There was plenty of her thinking about it, but I don’t think that she really thought about the consequences enough. She didn’t really picture life after her decision, either way. Still, I would recommend the book, just not as highly as I wish I could.
The Goodreads Description
Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.
I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.
Stay, he says.
Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.
If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.
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2 thoughts on “Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman”
You sound like you might like the second book a bit more. You definitely get the emotional weight of the decision there. And you see the flaws more. This one was my favorite of the two, but I still loved the second one.
Ooo really? I have it sitting on my shelf! I look forward to it.