Beautifully written characters, a lyrical and amazing book
I couldn't help but fall in love with the characters in this book. Definite thumbs up for me.
I’ve heard many positive things about Gayle Forman’s If I Stay so I was really tempted to read. So on my own whim, I bought it from the bookstore and dove into it instantly; I wouldn’t call it love at first page, but hey, give me props for wanting to give it a try. And I read it, and initially I think somewhere in its beginning I decided not to like it. Then I tried reading it again. And again, and again... you get the point. And guys, this is over a span of three years. It took me forever to realize I wasn’t giving the book the light of day I knew it should have, and a teeeny self-note: never turn down a book for its beginning because it can get better. This was the case for If I Stay.
Yes— this story does dumps a lot of tragedy early in its beginning, and out of the tragedy erupts a beautiful novel like this— so lyrical and just so romantically written, I couldn’t help but come to love it at its end. Actually... I didn’t want it to end, because with the way the whole novel was wrapped up—I just couldn’t believe it had to stop there, because by the time you finished I know you’ll be full of questions and wanting answers just as I was.
My little summary: so this story follows Mia, a seventeen year old virtuoso at the cello, has a gorgeous and amazing boyfriend, a very promising future, and a family who adores her. Perfect, right? In an instant, on a day that started like any other, Mia’s family dies in an automobile accident and her near-perfect life is taken away from her. Mia is left in a comatose state; trapped between life and death, between a happy past and an unclear future, Mia must decide whether she wants to stay or live.
I was heartbroken. Mia lost her entire family in an instant (and in this book, it is literally the case.) This sounds cruel, but I was lacking sympathy for her and the characters. I think this is due to the fact that we hardly knew the characters in its beginning, and Mia had such a perfect life even I was beginning to feel a little envy. I was doubtful; Mia was giving that total Mary Sue vibe, and the almost perfection (almost) of her life just seemed way too good to be true.
Honestly, I didn’t even realize the car accident had happened. How it is written in the book was so quick and brief, and I ran over the sentence so quickly I hadn’t even realized the car accident happened. Next thing I know, the ambulance is arriving and I’m wondering: “What did I just read?” No worries, I re-read it but I just wished it could’ve been written at a more... moderate pace so I could actually catch onto what happened more easily.
Perhaps, if there was a thing that bothered me most about If I Stay, was the fact there wasn’t much happening. There’s little episodic tales that somehow tie into the story otherwise while she’s in her coma, and just some really heartfelt moments. As the memories of Mia’s past and future unravel, you can’t help but think but wonder what she will choose in the long run—and if it weren’t for such a big decision she had to make by the novel’s end, I probably would’ve put the book down. There’s just no clear plot, just full of written charm and wit from Mia in such an expressive, beautiful way. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with beautiful writing, as I do admire Gayle Forman’s stylization and dialogue, but you might find yourself craving a little more if you’re one of those readers who love their books jam-packed with plot lines, plot twists, plot ANYTHING, really.
But what’s amazing is how sincere the relationship between her boyfriend, Adam, and Mia connected. I didn’t really care for the couple much, because we were never given that character-driven, building moment where the story slowly eases into their first kiss and really see their relationship blossom. In this instance, the more is told about the relationship between the two the more you realize how amazing of a couple they are together. I mean, the rocker and the cello-player?! That sounds absolutely adorable and Forman just writes their romance in a way when it just really comes to work.
No joke, I started off not liking this book much at all. I was bored, and wanted more from it but then as soon as I finished I screamed out “NOOOOO!” because it just couldn’t end there. It can’t!! Not especially when there’s so much more story to tell about Mia’s future, Adam—well, everything. But don’t worry, my lips are sealed!
So is If I Stay a miss or a pass? Personally, I think this book particularly is something that might appeal to the older YA readers, and the lack of the plot-driven storyline might be a little annoying to some. It’s a mix of tender moments and the characters are given a lot of depth, and overall an amazingly written story. It might not be tonight’s page turner or your favorite, but is something I’d recommend reading if you’re looking for a good winter read passer-by.
Characters: Mia was the perfect girl who had it all. I got the feeling that she'd be the type of person who is genuinely sweet and deserves everything she has. I felt absolutely terrible for her when her mind realizes she has lost her entire family. The entire story is mostly a narrative of Mia's memories of when she was living, her mind that is still functioning while her body is in a coma trying to figure out if she should stay alive for just give up living, and there really aren't any other main characters I will mention Adam because he plays a huge role in the sequel. So, all you really learn about Adam is that he is a really sweet guy, obviously in love with his girlfriend. The book describes their first meeting, him trying to impress her, and how their relationship has progressed since then. You might not love Adam just yet after reading this, but once you read Where She Went, you will fall, fall hard for Adam Wilde.
Plot: Very predictable...You might find yourself thinking of those tv shows and movies in which the characters won't wake up, but some part of hem is aware of everything that is going on. Personally, I was reminded of the Full House episode when Michelle fell off the horse and couldn't remember anything until her "memory" came back.
Writing: Gayle Forman did a beautiful job of telling this story. It is very emotional, and as I already warned, you might find yourself wanting to cry.
Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes, and then the sequel!
An emotional and heartbreaking story you simply have to read
This one was definitely a sad one. And a serious one. Throughout the whole book, it really made me think about life and what really matters.
We know the story: a tragic accident, lives hanging in the balance, emotions flying all over the place. The story is told through the eyes of Mia, who is basically having an out-of-body experience while her body is desperately fighting for her life. There are a ton of flashbacks as Mia recounts how she and her best friend came to be, memories of her parents and her little brother, and of course, the wonderful love that is Adam Wilde.
Even though this was a sad story, Gayle kept it light at times and brought good memories of Mia’s life which I loved. There were a lot of real issues addressed in here and in the end it really makes you appreciate the life you have and the people in it. It made me think about how uncertain life can be, how things can change in the blink of an eye, and although I wouldn’t recommend reading books like this all the time because that can seriously mess with your head, I love reading stuff like this every now and then to take some perspective in life.
Gayle’s writing is superb and very heartfelt. She can make you feel happy one minute, sad the next. She knows exactly how to get to your heart and in your head and does so flawlessly in this story. Probably the only complaint I have is that there wasn’t enough of Adam. You get a nice backstory of his and Mia’s relationship, how they fall in love and all, but there wasn’t enough of him in the story overall to really do it for me. I suppose it kind of works out and builds to the big climax at the end of the story, but I still think he could’ve been in there a bit more, it didn’t seem like he was that big of a figure.
And the ending?! Talk about a cliffhanger! Sure, the story is about Mia’s choice, but the ending wasn’t what I expected and after reading the synopsis for Where She Went, I’m a bit disappointed in how things ended up. Their love seemed to be such a big and overpowering entity in If I Stay, I was a bit disappointed on that part. I’m hoping Where She Went focuses more on their relationship and how epic their love is supposed to be.
If I Stay is a poignant, moving story about love and loss that will make you think about and appreciate everything you have in life.
Mia, an aspiring musician, is happy - she has a wonderful family, a wonderful boyfriend and a wonderful best friend. Until one fateful icy morning when she loses everything. But the question remains, has she lost everything worth living for?
Mia wakes up after a tragic car accident, only she's no longer in her own body. She can't feel anything but she can see and hear everything, although it seems no-one is able to see or hear her. Is Mia dead? She soon realises this is not the case. It appears that Mia is lingering somewhere between life and death, and she has a decision to make. The titleof the book refers to this weighty decision - will Mia stay? Will she choose to live? Or will she go?
If I Stay brings together a montage of Mia's thoughts and memories, from both the past and present, piecing together, bit by bit, a picture of Mia and her life for us. It was beautifully written, crafted with sophistication and flowed smoothly like music - like a piece of Mia's beautiful cello playing, I could imagine.
Mia was a very real, believable character, I thought. She was just a completely normal, down-to-earth girl, average in every way, apart from her extraordinary passion for, and gift with, music.
You could really see that Mia and her boyfriend, Adam, were truly in love, and their relationship was wholly believable. Their love for each other stemmed from their mutual love of music and their relationship was incredibly sweet, although not without its flaws and problems, but these little details made everything all the more realistic as we all know that life, and love, never does run smoothly.
Life really can change in an instant, as Mia finds out, and as this book proves to you. It is incredible how one moment can have so much power - how many lives it can change, how many lives it can end. It is incredible how one decision can be so hard to make and how either choice will have so many repercussions.
If I Stay was a relatively short read but it was packed with emotion and beautifully written. Although not a book I would be clamoring to read again and again, I think reading this book once makes enough of an impact on you - I certainly was very emotionally affected by it; by the end, my insides had gone fuzzy and tears were pricking at the back of my eyes. A short and sweet book - I would recommend If I Stay for anyone searching for a touching, thought-provoking read.
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.
When I cracked open the first page of If I Stay I expected to go in crying my eyes out, snot running down my nose, and stacks of used tissues besides me. Well, call me the ice queen because that did not happen. But! I feel that I have to say that I did happen to read this book while in school&during an important test&in a classroom filled with silence and many many classmates. And I am a loud crier. So I held it in. So thus explains the non-waterworks.
Gayle Forman presents the reader an interesting question in her novel. What would indeed happen if I did decide to stay instead of letting go? What will I lose? What will I gain? What is there to live for? There were moments where the intensity, the heartache came full throttle at me that I needed a break. My eyes, teary, were blinking vigorously to stop the sobs from coming. I had to breathe in and out, close my eyes then venture back into Mias tale. I was that much of a sadist to be reading this in school.
The pace was exquisite. The way she switched back and forth from the hospital to the Mias past. She delved into Mias relationship between the family membersmother, father, brother, grandparents, her friendship, her love of the cello. Sometimes happy, others nostalgic, all great. Then it reverts back to the hospitalthe painful experience of watching and waiting, hoping for the best in the end. Up and down, the emotions flew from page to page. What I love most about this method was the fact that I had a breather every few minutes. I could collect my thoughts and also the novelty of it all. If the hospital scenes were stretch out or if there were no happy scenes, I probably, most likely, will end up bored.
The characters were flawedmeaning it was well executed. Scratching your heads at that? Well how would you feel reading about a character who was so perfect? Annoyed? I definitely would be. So it was pleasant to read a book that had problems, people who arent so darn prefect, and ones that seem more human than a false image in your mind.
The writing style reminds me much of the stream of consciousness. I plan to not go into further depth of thatjust pointing about something that I learned in school! Yay!
Overall: An amazing read that leaves me wanting and expecting more from Gayle.