If I Stay
Wow, what a poignant and moving story. I am so incredibily impressed with this book. Although it's dubbed YA fiction, the voice of Mia (17-year-old narrator) is far from young. Gayle Forman did a great job making this book relevant to all ages through the span of characters and mature yet relatable narration. Mia's story is so touching and heartbreaking yet so full of hope at the same time. Anyone can pick up this book and get something from it. I highly recommend it to anyone. I was blown away.
Original review posted 5/17/12 on The Book Addict's Guide: Ho. Ly. Cow. This book was phenomenal. First I have to say bravo to Gayle Forman for such beautiful writing - I read a lot of cheesy books and yes, they're fun, but nothing is better than a flat out wonderfully written story. Although this is dubbed YA fiction, Mia's narration throughout the novel does not feel juvenile at all. I feel like any age can read this book and appreciate it in its entirety. Every character in this book has a story and I felt such connection, like this was the story of a real family, real friends, and not just characters on pages. I connected with everything Mia was feeling throughout her struggle to fight to stay alive or decide if it was her time to go. Wow, it just really moved me, as cheesy as that sounds. There's just no other way to put it. So mature, so emotional, so gripping. I laughed, I smiled, and most of all I cried. Just read the book. It's so worth it!
Re-read completed 8/11/13: Well since it was a re-read I wasn't as totally knocked out by it (just since there were some surprises and whatnot I already knew) but it's still such a beautiful story and wonderfully written. My original thoughts stand.
Re-read review posted 9/4/13 on The Book Addict's Guide: Gayle Forman is one of my all-time favorite authors and also a great writing inspiration. The beauty and emotion captured in her books are the reason I started the Gayle Forman Read Along... Well that and I needed a good excuse to re-read all of them because I've been meaning to do so ever since I finished JUST ONE DAY.
Re-reading IF I STAY was an interesting experience. I was really glad I got to share it with the people on the read along because there were some people reading not only IF I STAY for the first time, but any of Gayle Forman's books for the first time! It was just really great to see them experience that. But also, one of my main fears of re-reading was that I wasn't going to like it as much as my first read. While that kind of ended up happening in a way, I also fell in love with the book all over again.
It's true that I didn't enjoy IF I STAY as much as when I first read it. On my first read, I was simply blown away. It was the first Gayle Forman book I ever read and of course the beauty of her writing just swept me away, but I also think (and have discussed with other read along-ers!) that part of the reason I wasn't as amazed on the re-read is because I knew exactly what was coming in Mia's story. The initial read has a sort of suspense whether Mia will choose to stay or go, the surprise of the initial accident, and just little moments that a first-time reader isn't expecting. I think all of those elements on a first read really makes the book amazing. It's still gorgeous and heartbreaking and bittersweet the second time around, but those little surprises really make up a sizable chunk of a "wow factor" for this book.
Some things that I was able to pick up on my re-read that I hadn't on my first read: a small little hint at SISTERS IN SANITY! Mia makes a mention of a Portland band called Clod which was Brit's band in SISTERS IN SANITY. I absolutely loved that because so much of SISTERS IN SANITY reminded me of IF I STAY. Obviously I had no idea on my first read since I only read SIS a couple months ago so I really, really enjoyed how those two books tied together! Very clever, Gayle!
I also think that already knowing the ending of the book helped me slow down and really get into the characters and their relationships. Whenever I get excited about the end of a book, I have this really bad habit where I can't help but rush through what I'm reading to get to the end and see what the future holds in store for our characters. This being a re-read, the ending wasn't a surprise to me so I really got to take my time and cherish the relationships that were blossoming as others ended, revel in Mia's pain and sadness, observe things about characters and the setting that I hadn't noticed before... I just really got to take in a lot more detail!
Um, HI -- this also helped me rekindle my love of ADAM WILDE. Gayle....... thank you for Adam. I've already started the re-read of WHERE SHE WENT and I am SO in love with Adam. Of course, that's a discussion for another day, but all of IF I STAY just really helped me remember how much I loved him and what a shame it was that I almost forgot!
If you haven't read IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT yet, I highly recommend picking them up! They both instantly made me a Gayle Forman fan for life and will always hold a special place in my heart.
In the novel If I Stay by Gayle Forman, the writer portrays tragedy and love through the eyes of the main character, Mia Hall who is throughout the entire novel in a coma; yet narrates the novel. through an outside of the body experience. I watched the movie some time ago before I read the novel, and I am happy I took the time to read it. It was a totally different experience.Gayle Forman used a lot of figurative language as well as wrote in a way that it was a series of flashbacks that felt so present. I think the idea of the novel was great, i was interested that the main character Mia went through the love and loss of her family, and soon decided to come back to life even when she had the choice of death.
The love story between Adam and Mia would help the class enjoy the book. This is one of the novels that I found incorporated figurative language and many stylistic choices while having an enticing plot line to appeal to younger students. I also believe that because there is a movie out, and many students could watch it and get the basic plot line, it may consolidate it for them but also will give me more of a reason to focus on the actual words themselves. We could watch the movie together in class and discuss which we thought was better, and if everything lived up to our expectations. I am now finishing up the sequel to this book Where She Went and I am wondering if it would be a good idea to read both together or have a separate reading assignment over a break. I think this would lead to interesting discussion because If I Stay is narrated by Mia while Where She Went is narrated by her lover Adam.
Covers are important. This is the first impression that a potential reader has of your book, and so the cover must convey what you want it to, and communicate to a reader what your book may have to offer.
This cover makes me feel like the story inside will be playful and fun and it reminds me of birds, and spring and happiness. It's a lovely cover, but in my humble opinion, doesn't do well to represent the story. I've passed by this book, dozens of times with hardly a glance at the blue cover. But my eyes were instantly drawn to the haunted quality of the image on the edition that I bought.
My next cover related comment will pertain to the little "note" on this edition, which says, "Will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer's TWILIGHT." --USA Today This too is somewhat misleading, because my initial thought was that it would indicate that there's a supernatural element to the story (vampires or werewolves, etc), but that's not the case. There is a quality of the story that is a bit paranormal, but not in the way that people would associate with Meyer's story. Rather, this comment is about the romance aspect of the story, but I feel like it would have been better left off altogether. I didn't even realize the quote was regarding Twilight when I bought the book, as there was a price sticker over almost all of it. I could see "Will appeal to fans of" and "A Today". So this thought is what occurred to me after reading the story and then removing the sticker.
I don't normally talk about the covers much in my reviews, but this one just has so much bearing on how the story can be seen, especially if one is inclined to determine by a cover if a book looks like it might be to their taste, that I wanted to talk about it.
After first cracking the book, and reading a little bit of it, I have to admit that I didn't think that the writing really warranted the praise lavished on it. The writing was simple, and direct, even somewhat vulgar, seeing as how much of the story pertains to the punk music scene, which is full of colorful language, but isn't exactly flowery. I read, waiting for the "achingly beautiful" parts to kick in, and was thinking that I'd be writing in my review about how, yes, it was sad, but I wouldn't exactly call the writing beautiful. And then I realized that it IS beautiful, in the unflowery, punk-rock and down-to-earth way that fit the story perfectly, and made my heart break for all that it represented.
I loved the way that Mia, the main character, showed us her life, and her family, and her world. Interspersed with "now" events were her memories, which showed so perfectly all that she no longer had due to an unfortunate accident. One minute everything is fine, and the next, everything is gone, and Mia has to decide if she wants to live in a world without the people she loves the most.
I loved the characters, and how they were all unique and true to themselves. I loved the way that they each represented a choice in how they wanted to live, and made that choice almost without effort. This seemed to contrast the decision that Mia has to make, and the difficulty and pain that it causes, both to her and her friends and loved ones. I could really identify with Mia's grandfather, who tells her that it's OK if she needs to let go even though he desperately wants her to stay, because I had a similar conversation with my grandmother when she was in the hospital a few years ago. It was incredibly hard to remember that feeling, reading this, but it was honest and true, and made sure that I understood the depth of Mia's family's love for her to want to let her be free of her pain.
Mia's boyfriend, Adam, was perfect. I almost don't want to talk about him. He is the kind of boyfriend that girls dream about: gorgeous, a little wild and dangerous and unpredictable, but sweet and honest and caring and sensitive too. His speech to Mia was so... raw and painful that I could barely see the page to read it. It's a good thing I was sitting up, or I'd have to wring this book out. Adam's request to Mia rivaled Wentworth's letter to Anne, and that is saying something.
This story was beautiful, achingly so, so it absolutely deserved the praise that it received. I was very surprised by this book, by it being so musically oriented, and how big of a role that played in the lives of everyone in the story. I was surprised by the roughness of the story, but glad that it was written this way, because it more real than any poetic prose could offer. Life is ugly and dirty and unfair and mean, so why shouldn't a story about these things be the same way? I thought it was beautifully done, and can't recommend this book highly enough.
I'm off to call my parents and tell them I love them.