Friday, April 5, 2013

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

TITLE: If I Stay
AUTHOR: Gayle Forman
PUBLISHER/YEAR: Dutton Juvenile / 2009
SOURCE: Purchased

Goodreads / Author's Website

You know those books that open up and just hit you with an emotional punch so hard you cry until it's done? If I Stay is one of those books. I swear it. I'm not a big crier, not in the movies, not during books, I just don't, but I wept throughout If I Stay. It's that heartbreaking.

Mia Hall leads a pretty normal life for a seventeen year old girl. She's a cello prodigy looking towards university, she loves her family, has one good friend and a boyfriend. She's happy. However, in one instant everything changes. There's an accident in which she loses her family and as she's watching her own body afterwards, she must decide whether she lives or dies.

So the story starts out typically enough with a big family breakfast, but after just reading the back cover I knew that wouldn't last. Honestly, reading those first few pages made the rest even worse. We're introduced to Mia and her family, this tight knit, loving group who are just awesome. Two former punk rock parents who are still pretty cool, a little brother who could not be any sweeter and even though I know there's this tragedy that unfairly takes them I want them to stay. They're this supportive group who's like the ideal YA family, the kind I wish was present in more books. Every scene that included them brought a smile to my face.

But of course, there's a car accident and in one instant they're all gone, leaving only Mia behind. Forman does such an amazing job taking us on this journey with Mia. Like I can't think of a single person who could remain dry eyed throughout this book. Mia's heartbreak is palpable on every page, in every line throughout If I Stay and I could completely understand her choosing to leave this world to join her family. It just got such an emotional response from me, I don't even know how to describe it.

Basically, it just had me thinking, what if this was my family. I mean honestly, I stayed up all night reading this book, put it down and just wanted to hug my little brother. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to lose all these people who mean the world to me.

All the secondary characters in this book are pretty great. Adam the boyfriend, isn't explored that much. I get that he's great, he's cool, her family loves him, but I didn't get a great sense of him. I loved how close Mia was to Kim, her best friend. It was just a moving look at female friendship without the backstabbing and minimal drama, they just cared about each other and were honest. And Mia's grandparents made me miss my own.

God, it was just all so tragic and even writing this review has me tearing up all over again. It was a tearjerker in the best way possible. I rated it down on Goodreads only because it left me feeling so sad for days, not because the book is terrible (and this is why there I don't give star ratings on my blog). If I Stay is a special book just full of heartache; there are moments that make you forget all of that, but overall it's just such a moving look at grief.


  1. I loved this one too, but I feel like I also rated it down because of how sad it is. You should definitely read Where She Went, I love both books, but Where She Went is by far my favorite.

    1. I actually went out and bought Where She Went like immediately after finishing this one, but I haven't reviewed it yet. I went on this major Gayle Forman kick and didn't want to just have like a week of only reviewing her books....although in retrospect that doesn't necessarily seem like a bad thing. I really loved Where She Went too.