Reading Is Good For You

Book Reviews, Literary News, and Thoughts on Life

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

forman1Seventeen year old Mia is forced to make some tough decisions about her future: either let her talent for the cello take her to Julliard, or stay on the west coast with her boyfriend, Adam, and her family and friends.

All of these options are null and void, though,  after Mia and her family are in a deadly accident one snowy February morning and she’s caught as a spirit between this life and the next. Now all Mia is left with is the most difficult choice she’ll ever have to make in her life. Should she leave behind the sadness and guilt she’ll feel for surviving the accident, or choose to stay in this life for the sake of those still living who love her?

What I loved: We’ve all heard that opposites attract, which is certainly true in the case of Mia and Adam. She’s a quiet, classical music loving girl, and he’s an extroverted, in a punk-rock band sort of guy. What we don’t normally hear about is the difficulty these couples have staying together and blending their different lifestyles and interests. Forman takes care of that in If I Stay by showing us Mia and Adam’s struggles and how they worked to make their relationship successful.

I also liked how Forman distributed flasback scenes amidst what was currently happening in the plot. Little by little, we are given glimpses of Mia’s life with her family (probably one of the most outrageous, but loveable families I have come across in my reading) and how Mia and Adam came to be. This trick was also a successful way of creating suspense in the story, since the flashbacks created just enough interlude to keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering what is happening with Mia and her family, but not long enough to become tedious.

On the flip side: If you are at all squeamish, you might want to avoid the accident scene while you are eating, as it does get a bit graphic. I wouldn’t say it’s over the top, but I do have a pretty good imagination and I didn’t like what my brain was showing me. Also, if you are sensitive to foul language, just be forewarned that the f-bomb is dropped a few times (and not by the teenagers, like one would expect). This is a teen book, so I wouldn’t call it inappropriate (goodness knows most teens have heard all this and more in the halls of their high school), but just be aware that it is present.

Overall, If I Stay is a well-written book that will tug on your heartstrings. If you are looking for a light, fluffy summer read, I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you want to see a beautiful portrayal of the power of love and the tough choices with which we are sometimes faced, then head on down to your local library or bookstore and pick this one up.

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This entry was posted on August 5, 2009 by in Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction.
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