If I Stay by: Gayle Forman

Book: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
Publishing details:
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published April 9th 2009 by Dutton Juvenile (first published 2009)

Summary:

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.

Why I read this book:

Someone, I think Stephanie Perkins, said that If I Stay was a great novel.  So I picked it up.  And then I flipped through the book and read a random page, and it sounded good so I started reading it all on a sick day from work.  ALL of IT!!!

Reaction/Review:

So what I didn’t realize was that this book was about death.  Yup, spoiler alert.  Death.  And so I started reading it and after the car accident, I kept thinking, no this can’t be happening, I read a bit further in the book and she’s totally still around.  And then I kept reading, and then when I realized that this was what was happening I started to cry, and didn’t stop till I reached the end of the book.  It was emotionally moving, and I would recommend it to anyone, provided you have 6 hours to yourself and a box of Kleenex and someone to hug and tell them you love them afterwards.

It was extremely well written.  I am not usually a fan of the flashbacks but this was handled with such care that it made perfect sense in the story.  The basic premise is about a girl after a car accident and she’s in a coma, and having an out of body experience, and it is about weather or not she chooses to pass on or continue living.

She also had this really amazing family life.  Like parents she got along with, and a younger brother, and boyfriend she was in love with, and a music career possibility.  She was also at a crossroads in her life in regards to music and her boyfriend.  Do you sacrifice a relationship for you’re music, or you’re music for a relationship, and all of that is taken away from her and it comes down to do I live or do I die.  And the argument for either side is emotionally heart breaking.

I loved these characters.  Even the secondary characters, you get a real feel for them, especially since this is told in third person.  Her best friend is uniquely her own, and boyfriend, and her grandparents and little brother.  And her parents.  They are all characters of their own self, not just place holders in the novel.  And the relationship she has with each of them is beautifully touched upon.  Her life felt so real, so normal, so true.

Everyone that came to visit her in the hospital had his or her own story.  Who they were, how they related.  Even the nurses.  “this is about her, she’s running the show.”  When her Grandfather says it’s okay to let go.  I sobbed.  Huge heaving sobs.  A parent, a grandparent, should never have to put a child in the grave.  But they do sometimes, and it made it even more emotionally harrowing.   The truth of this novel, the humanity of it, the essence of life and death and that choice –  I just don’t have the words to describe how phenomenally well Gayle has brought this to the page.

I loved this story.  This is the type of story that stays with you forever.  It resonates.  I cried the entire way through it.   Sometimes it was a gentle trickle of tears, and others it was giant heaving sobs.  I am not saying this is an easy read.  But it is a read that is well worth your time.  Sit down, do it in one sitting.  Take that emotional roller coaster ride.  I would, even knowing that it is heartbreaking, I would read this again.

Final Thoughts

I am not normally a contemporary person.  And I usually avoid books that I know are going to make me feel this deeply.  There is something about having your heart ripped out by a book that requires a certain amount of strength to face.  I mean life can be difficult enough, and normally I read for escapism.  This was worth breaking all of my reading rules over.  And I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I am totally a fan of Gayle Foreman.

Rating:  Drum roll please……. My first EVER 10/10

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