Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review of If I Stay

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make and the ultimate choice Mia commands.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:   4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Anyone hungry for literary-inspired introspection
High point:  The emotional involvement
Low point:  Some of the potential conclusions to the posed questions
Reader maturity:  15+

It's not often that I'm so impressed with a book, I can't find the words to describe my awe of it, and I'm even more rarely inclined to talk about books with my family and friends. If I Stay is one of those novels that left me speechless and yet also moved me so much that I tried to share the news of its brilliance anyway.

My copy is well-worn, not because I've loaned it out to all my friends, but because it was that way when I bought it. I like to think that it made the rounds, from friend to friend. It's a good kind of worn, not ill-cared-for but well-loved, and with good reason.

If I Stay is one of the best introspective novels I've ever read. Whereas novels such as this tend towards the boring (for me), If I Stay kept me reading and turning pages. Mia possesses such strength and kindness, as well as the naivete that abounds in youth, but If I Stay is never overly hopeful or optimistic. It's grounded in grief and the love of Mia's family, especially her grandparents.The flashbacks never felt forced or as if they served a purpose; they truly seemed like flashbacks of an average life. When the pieces fell together, they created a beautiful mosaic of past and present, mistakes made and battles fought.

My only issue with the premise of If I Stay is that, by postulating that people are given a life or death choice, the ones who die must have chosen death. While I love the thought that people hold on for their loved ones, I don't much care for the alternative--that those who die didn't care enough about their families or their lives to stay. I know I'm veering into philosophical territory, but when I looked too deep, I started getting frustrated. So maybe the key is not to consider the implications of that choice.

If I Stay made me sad, it made me happy and most importantly, it made me think about the things that are important in the life I've been given, and I highly recommend it.

Title:  If I Stay
Author:  Gayle Forman
Genre:   Fiction - Contemporary
Year:   2009
Book Source:  Purchased


  1. I find great satisfaction in a well-read copy of a book too! I even like it if there is underlining or notes in the margins because I like to know what another reader was thinking. I also like introspective novels, so I'm adding this to my TBR.

  2. If I Stay made me think and feel a variety of emotions as well. Great review! :)