author: Gayle Forman
series: If I Stay #1
published: 224 March 2009
genre(s): contemporary, romance
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rating: | series rating:
In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make.
There are certain books that just emotionally drain you, and this was one of them. There are moments of sadness, moments of happiness, moments of pain, and moments of sweetness. It is a book whose story just stays with you.
I love the way the story of If I Stay is constructed. It is told from Mia’s point of view, but it isn’t just her version of the present. Instead, it travels back and forth through her history and those of the people she loves. This gives the entire book a bit of a bittersweet quality, as you experience loss with Mia. You are a part of her world after the fact and it makes the present all the sadder. It is a story of. a girl with an incredibly quirky and fun family, a snarky best friend, and rocker boyfriend who represents everything she herself is not.
Mia’s family is built on music and love. Her dad was a former punk rocker and her mom his biggest fan. Mia’s boyfriend Adam was a rocker whose career is growing even before he finishes high school. And then there is Mia, the classical music loving cellist who is on her way to great things. But, in a single moment, everything changes for her and for her family.
The author doesn’t shy away from the tough situations or questions that arise from Mia’s personal tragedy. Instead, she makes Mia and the reader question themselves about fanily and choices. What is a family? How do you choose when faced with such diverse choices?
This is a book about family and tragedy and unthinkable choices, but it is also a story of beauty. It speaks of the bonds between those we love. And with these themes, there is also the love between Adam and Mia. Their romance was beautiful, sweet and passionate. It was music that brought them together, no matter how different the two expressed it. And it was their differing musical genres that often threatened their relationship as their music took them in very different directions. I liked that their relationship was portrayed realistically. Instead of painting everything as perfect, it touched on problems and dischord.
The interesting thing, however, was in how I related to Adam and Mia. If I Stay was Mia’s story, but it was Adam that I identified with the most. There were moments during flashbacks where I felt like Mia was unfair or too demanding and it was Adam who was the sympathetic quality. And Adam’s pain and anguish and selfless love was beautiful to watch. I watched the movie shortly after finishing the novel and I felt the same way for most of it, as well.
If you like a good, emotional read that isn’t all perfect happy endings, then this is an excellent read. The story is beautiful and sweet, even as it is tragic and sad at times.
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