If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Posted September 3, 2014 in Book Review / 2 Comments

If I Stay by Gayle FormanIf I Stay by Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #1
Published by Speak on April 6th 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 262
Format: Paperback
Source: Amazon
Goodreads
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three-half-stars

On a day that started like any other, Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

Main Points
Note: I read this for a buddy-read with my blogging bestie Jillie from Jillian’s Books.
Writing Style:
The writing was pretty good. It switched a lot between present and memories, but it was done so it didn’t get confusing.
Plot:
I had kind of an idea of what this book was going to do, and I was correct. Yes. She’s hovering between life and death. There is very little exposition before the accident. Could that have been drawn out more? Yes, but the chapter we had was enough. It set the scene enough to contrast it with the accident, and the memories did the rest. So. Bam. Accident. Now what? She’s got a choice to make, hasn’t she? How are we going to see her thought process? Through memories.
So it alternates. She watches herself in the ICU. Then, she remembers something with her family, with Adam, with her best friend Kim. And this works. Through her memories, and a little through the present, we are able to get a clear picture of everyone important. 

Through her memories, and a little through the present, we are able to get a clear picture of everyone important.

 It works out. No issues.
The one big thing that bugged me was the romance. I really wasn’t sold on it until the very end. Sorry, but I just wasn’t seeing it. It seemed like she was questioning a little too much, and he was being patient with her, but it was hard to see how he really cared for her.
Now let’s talk about that for a second. She kept thinking, ‘why me?’ when it came to why Adam liked her. I know from personal experience that this isn’t a good sign. And you think, sure, as long as he reassures her the right way it’ll all be okay, and the insecurity will go away. But what if it comes back? What if you’re still constantly wondering that?
Well, then it’s not going to work out.

The one big thing that bugged me was the romance. 

I don’t know. That was probably red flag #1. It also bugged me how they couldn’t- wouldn’t- think about the future. I mean, look at how old you are. Of course you’re going to have to think about it. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider getting into a relationship at that age without thinking of the future. There’s too much to lose. On the one hand, you can think, love isn’t a choice. If it happens, it happens. On the other hand, you’ve still got to be reasonable about it. In early high school, you can think you’re in love, but you know deep in your heart that you’re not going to end up marrying this person and living together forever. No matter what you tell yourself, that’s not going to happen. But in late high school and early college, that’s an option. It’s kind of a stretch, and it would take work and commitment, but it’s a possibility. Even more than that, it’s a choice. You have to choose to be committed to this person long enough.
So what did I see here? Did I see commitment?
No. I saw indecisiveness. I saw youth. They were too young and too afraid to think about the future. Mia’s mom said they were too young to fall in love, and though her reasoning may be different from mine, I agree with that statement.
Thankfully, by the end, it changed. I was pleased. It’s funny, but I think that thinking about the future helped make her decision.
Is it really too much of a spoiler to say she chooses to stay? I mean, there’s a sequel, after all.
My final thoughts? All right, so there’s the ending. So through all that struggle, she chooses to stay. I’m still not all that sold on their relationship, but it could be heading in the right direction. What do I expect for the sequel? Well, now that we’ve established her life, I think we need to focus more on the relationship, and I think it’s probably going to do that. That I can look forward to.
In case you didn’t notice, this was my first half-star rating. I was in between 3 and 4. Based on the review I just wrote, I’d probably round it to a 3, although on Goodreads I rounded it to a 4 (as per my initial reaction upon finishing).
Quotes
If he is crying, it will kill me. Forget this my choice business. That alone will do me in.
-page 103
Hearing her play, and watching how deeply she lost herself in the music, I wanted to play like that. Better even. It wasn’t just that I wanted to beat her, but also that I felt like I owed it to her, to the group, to my self, to play at her level.
-page 137
Good vs. Bad
Good:
  • plot
  • pacing
  • ending
  • most characters
  • writing
Less than perfect:
  • romance
Bottom Line
This is a sad but memorable book. The writing was done very well and the plot was perfectly fine. The romance was a little lacking, however. Would I read more by this author? Yes. Would I recommend this book to others? Probably.

About Gayle Forman

My name is Gayle Forman and I love to write young-adult novels. Because I do. So thank you for reading them. Because without you, it’d just be me. And the voices in my head.

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Rating
Plot
four-half-stars
Characters
three-stars
Writing
four-stars
Setting
four-stars
Romance
three-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: three-half-stars

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2 Comments on "If I Stay by Gayle Forman"

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Jillian
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I have to agree about the romance part! Even if this book isn’t exactly a romance, I didn’t like how it was added to the book. I wasn’t in the mood to read about Mia falling for Adam. Thank God it didn’t show up EVERYWHERE because that would seriously bum me! :< I agree with some parts of your review. And as always, love the way you write <3

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