Review: If I Stay

Review: If I StayIf I Stay by Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #1
Published by Speak on April 6, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 262
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

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.

On setting out on my reading journey for If I Stay, I was full of anticipation, because I have heard a lot of good buzz about this title, but also a bit cautious, due to the Twilight comparison on the cover. Let me state for the record that this book is nothing like Twilight. All they really have in common is that both are YA novels aimed primarily at a female audience.

The opening of the novel definitely worried me as to whether I would like the book (which, just so you know, I did). The first page includes a description of the snowfall: “It isn’t even an inch, but in this part of Oregon a slight dusting brings everything to a standstill as the one snowplow in the county gets busy clearing the roads” (3). This sounds like a description of the reaction to snow in Atlanta, not Oregon. As a northern state that, to my knowledge, gets a pretty good amount of snowfall, there seems to be no way they could be so unprepared for the inclement weather. Or the kids would just never have school.

That section aside, I really, really likes this book. It deals with a serious topic, but does so without being preachy or heavy-handed. The writing is fairly simple and even distant in places, but this fits perfectly to the tone of the novel. The whole story just came together beautifully.

What really made the book work for me (and made it completely different from a book like Twilight) was that it did not focus only on Mia’s romance. She is in love with a fabulous boyfriend, yes, but he is not all she thinks about. She also spends her time, as she makes her decision, contemplating her family, best friend and love for the cello/classical music. The flashback sections of the novel were definitely my favorites. They just burst with life and I could really feel the love Mia had for those people in her life, even in the times where everything was not as happy. Plus, they felt like real relationships, not like melodrama.

My suggestion to you, dear reader, is to put on a CD of gorgeous cello music and enjoy, although perhaps not on a day when you’re sad. For a somewhat similar read (in mood more than anything else – I kept thinking of this book as I read) try The Adoration of Jenna Fox, which I read earlier this year.

3 responses to “Review: If I Stay”

  1. So glad this book isn’t like twilight. I couldn’t bear another one! I also like that the book isn’t exclusively about the boyfriend either! 🙂

  2. Mimi Smith says:

    This is a great book! Knowing the subject, I was a bit apprehensive before reading it, but I ended up liking it, luckily. Liked the sequel even more 🙂

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