If I Stay (If I Stay #1)

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Broke my Heart & Then Pieced it Up
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I don't normally cry at books. To date, the only books that have made me genuinely cry are: Mutiny on the Bounty, The Book Thief, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Now If I Stay has been added to the list. And when I say cry, I don’t mean a few tears dripped down my cheeks. No, I mean I sobbed at this book. Legitimately had sobs racking my chest and had trouble catching my breath. This book destroyed me, and I love it for it.

There are so many wonderful things about this book, I don’t really know where to start. I love how much music is a theme of this book. Mia, our main character, is SO passionate about music, and I loved reading about her passion.Every time Mia described how much she loved playing the cello, I thought about how much I love words–stringing them into sentences that impart a deeper meaning and reading when others do the same.

Mia’s family is at first heartwarming and then heartbreaking. I think it was a really great portrayal of a family that is close to each other and loves each other dearly, while still not being perfect. Sometimes in YA families are absent or just completely dysfunctional, and it’s hard to find a family that seems realistic. Mia’s family does, if a little unlikely.

Mia isn’t your strong, fiery protagonist, but she has, I think, a very quiet strength. She’s really a very normal girl except for her musical ability. You get the idea when reading this that you could easily pass Mia on the streets and not notice her at all. She’s timid and uncertain at times, but she’s also incredibly real, which makes the story that much more poignant.

Even though this book is emotional, it never felt gimmicky or like the author was trying on purpose to make me cry. The story was handled so carefully that I never felt I was being emotionally manipulated, even though the very premise of the book does promise a certain emotional reaction. Reading about the choice that Mia had to make and how she kept going back and forth because of everything was heartbreaking. It was an incredibly beautiful look at an individual life.

The plot in this book is pretty thin; I’d say it’s much more character-driven than plot-driven. It’s slow moving, though captivating, and while I loved this book, I think it’s important to point out because I know that this type of slow, introspective book doesn’t appeal to everyone. Just something to be aware of if you’re thinking about picking up this book.

Final Impression: From the beginning to the very end, I was captivated by the heartbreaking story of Mia and her choice. One of the few books to prompt such an emotional reaction in me that I actually cried, I recommend this book to everyone, even people who don’t traditionally like Young Adult. Such a beautiful book, and I’m sure it won’t be my last Gayle Forman novel. 5/5 stars.
Good Points
Emotionally moving, character-driven
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A story that will fill you with love & rip your heart out all in one breath. Haunting, yet beautiful
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I appreciate books like this. There are stories that bring fantasy, a reality that could never be our own, to life, and give us a chance to escape the realism of our day to day chores. Then, there are stories like this particular novel. Books that bring perspective to life, make you appreciate how lucky you can be to have friends and loved ones that surround you, support you, and love you unconditionally, and the type of power that can stem from that is intense and awe-inspiring.

Now that I've finished the story and dried the tears from my face, I've tried to put myself in Mia's position, tried to imagine what my choice would have been? Would I be willing to fight for the life I was supposed to have, fight for the family that's still here, and fight harder for the ones that didn't make it? Or, despite my fierce determination to thrive and my aversion to death, would it simply be easier, whether physically or in matters of the heart, to be at peace with the life that I was given and rest eternally? To be honest, I still don't know... I'd want to say, undoubtedly, that I'd want to live, but truly, it all depends on circumstance.

Forman did a magnificent job of weaving the past in with the present. Each recollection flowed easily without seeming forced, and made my heart thud harder in my chest and caused the coil of nerves and knots in my stomach to tighten. Sometimes I found myself laughing through the tears at her memories of her family and her life, & this made me want to encourage her to fight harder, to do it for them.

So, to keep from spoiling her decision, I'll finish up by saying that this is definitely a book that will stick with me for a long time. I'm very much looking forward to reading the sequel now.

Also, Adam is my favorite.

"Adam is mumbling something now. In a low voice. Over and over he is saying: please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Finally, he stops and looks at my face. “Please, Mia,” he implores. “Don’t make me write a song.”"
Good Points
This book can bring every single one of your emotions to the surface. Gayle Forman is a masterful storyteller.
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Beautiful, haunting, unique, challenging
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
If I Stay alternates between Mia's flashbacks of her life and her out-of-body experience after the accident, watching her friends and family react to what has happened to her, her parents, and her brother. We get to see snippets of her childhood, her interaction with her parents and brother, and the evolution of relationship with her boyfriend, Adam, and her best friend, Kim. Meanwhile, we're also in the hospital, seeing how Adam, Kim, Mia's grandparents and other extended family members are coping. And through it all, Mia has to decide if she's going to succumb to her injuries or fight for her life; if the experiences she hasn't yet had are worth the pain of the world she'd be returning to.

This book hurt to read. While Mia is a bit of a detached narrator, it was still devastating to view the scene of the crash through her eyes, and to experience each of her revelations with her throughout the book. But although there is lots of sadness and hardship in this book, there is also joy and humor. Mia had an overall happy life. She had parents who loved her, a boyfriend who was devoted to her, and friends that cared for her. She had a creative outlet in the cello that the people in her life may not have totally understood, but still supported.

In a way, that happiness made what happened to her that much harder to read about. Her losses were large and meaningful, and it made it easy to understand why she would debate whether or not she wanted to return to a life that had been stripped of so much. There was no clear-cut right or wrong answer, and no matter what she chose, it would have made sense. It also makes her ultimate choice a double-edged sword. I simultaneously agreed with her choice and regretted, along with Mia, what she gave up by making it.

The few annoyances I had with this book were actually not problems with the book, just bits of added realism for the characters. While Mia adored her parents, and they loved her fiercely, as she looked back on her life, she would reflect on some occasions with her parents that she thought were awesome and I thought were questionable parenting decisions. But of course, that's because she's a teenager and these are her parents, and I'm an adult, and a parent, so our perspectives are going to be very different. (Of course, that also has a lot to do with your personal parenting -- and life -- philosophy, and we all know there are as many of those in the world as there are people. So other parents may think Mia's parents are the epitome of parenting, and that's fine too). There were also a couple instances with Adam in flashback that made me raise an eyebrow or two, but again, I understood why they made sense for the characters.

One of my favorite aspects of the book was the use of music, and how Mia, her parents, and Adam were all musicians, albeit very different kinds. Whenever Mia was talking about how she felt playing the cello, or about how her parents or Adam talked about music, I continually thought, yes. This is how musicians think (while I'm not the virtuoso Mia is, I still have a musician's brain). It made me want to go watch cello videos on YouTube (because there are some awesome cello videos on YouTube), or to sing, or to dust off my piano music. I loved how they all related through music, and while they approached it differently, they all understood that the music was the important thing.

If I Stay is a powerful and introspective look at life, love, family, friendship, and how everything we know can change in an instant. It was beautiful and haunting and sweet and sad, all at once. It's not like any other book I've read, and it stuck with me for a long time after I turned the last page.

[Oh, also, I have no idea why the cover blurb says it will appeal to fans of Twilight. While it definitely could appeal to fans of Twilight, it is absolutely nothing like Twilight, except that it features a teen female protagonist with a boyfriend.]
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Heartbreaking, but so worth your time.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
If you haven't read If I Stay yet, you are missing out. Find a copy. Seriously. I'll wait. Mia's story is equal parts heartfelt and heart wrenching. I warn you, pick up a box of tissues before you start reading. This is one that is going to make you cry.

For Mia, life is fairly perfect. She's intelligent, talented, and has a loving family. In fact, her family is the type of perfect that we only see in movies. Joking over breakfast, supporting one another through anything, it's just all too sweet. Mia has one big decision weighing on her mind. Stay in Oregon to be near her family and boyfriend? Or move to New York City to attend Juilliard? It's all too much for her to think about. So she loses herself in taking a drive with her family.

Then, in an instant, everything changes. Mia is on the cusp of the afterlife. Caught somewhere between the living and the dead, Mia can see and hear everything around her but cannot communicate with those around her. The choice that faces her now is simple. Stay alive, but without her family? Or just let go? Through alternating flashbacks of her past life and present state, the reader learns about those closest to Mia. We are given a look into her life and what she stands to loose if she lets go. What Gayle Forman gives the reader is a story that will tug at your heart strings. I was constantly torn between wanting her to leave and be at peace, and stay for so many reasons. This is a book that will make you feel so many emotions that it's almost overwhelming.

If I Stay is one of the most touching stories that I've ever read. This is a book that will break your heart in a wonderful way. I know that no matter what I write here, there is no way to do Gayle Forman's gorgeous book the justice that it deserves. Instead I give this my highest recommendation, and simply demand that you get out there and find a copy. Oh, and also a box of tissues.
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Deep, engrossing, emotional
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Previously published on my blog: http://fictionfervor.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/review-if-i-stay-by-gayle-forman/

I’ve been letting this book sit in my head for the past few days because I really can’t put my feelings about this book into words. So I’ll settle for a very vague word: indescribable. If I Stay is purely indescribable.

The characters in this novel could be my best friend, your best friend, someone’s best friend’s best friend … They are so realistic that I think that if I tried to touch them, I’d feel living flesh. The complexity of these characters just astounds me. Mia is quiet, shy–but she’s incredibly dedicated to playing cello. I don’t often read music geeks in novels anymore, but I always love when I do. I’m a violin player myself, though I’m not very devoted to music; however, my best friend has been in love with her piano since she was 4. And since I don’t have that kind of connection with my own music, I’m curious: I want to know what that special kind of happiness is. So far, I’ve only been able to compare it to my love of reading and writing. I’d say that it’s this wonderful feeling that trembles in your body; it’s something you can cherish and makes your heart burst. Utter joy.

Mia’s relationships with others are also incredibly unique, and you know that I’m a big fan of unique. She and her best friend, Kim (who is the queen of sarcasm), were originally mega-enemies; they didn’t like each other just because everyone thought they should be best friends. But after one fight, they became instant buddies. Mia and her little brother, Teddy–who is absolutely adorable, let me tell you–are thick as thieves. And Mia and her parents are practically polar opposites; her dad was once a rock band drummer, and her mom is a total rocker chick. Obviously, with Mia’s interest in classical music, their tastes clash. But the four of them make a hilarious family.

Here is a description of the typical young adult book boyfriend: dark, steamy, handsome, hawt … you get the point. They’re supposed to knock you off your feet. So guess what the guy–Adam–does in this book?

No, he doesn’t knock you off your feet. But he is so incredibly sweet. Little things here and there just make you fall for him–like Mia did–before you even realize that you fell for him–like Mia realized. Their relationship is so un-clichéd that I want to leap for joy. Because they get in fights too. They have their differences too (Adam plays in a rock band). They are just a regular teenage couple–but the two of them are just so deeply in love I want to cry.

But the part I loved the most about this book: the lesson. ‘Cause the cover pretty much sums it up with that one question: what would you do if you had to choose? If you were in a car accident, if your parents were dead, if your little brother might be on the verge of death, if you were stuck in a coma, if you knew that there was nothing for you if you came back except for a boyfriend and a best friend and a few relatives … would you choose to live or die if you had the choice?

It’s a deep question. Right now you might say, “I’d choose to stay, of course,” but think about it. Take a deep breath and sit back and just think. You would be a seventeen-year-old orphan. Your life would definitely not be the same as it was before the accident. Would you really want to stay? Because, remember, you can’t take back your choice. You’re stuck with it.

And before you say, “Of course Mia chooses to stay; I mean, after all, there is a sequel,” I’d like to point out that the sequel takes place from Adam’s point of view three years later. But you might not want to read the synopsis for that, because it’ll definitely spoil If I Stay.

Deep and engrossing, If I Stay is a must for any reader. Such an emotional novel is guaranteed to kindle a response to the biggest choice one could possibly have: to live or to die.

Source: Paperback received from giveaway
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Does she stay? or go?
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
This book really makes you think!
Good Points
My favorite part of the book was that the tragedy happened in the very beginning so that we weren't too attached to the characters. That factor also made the book easier to read because there wasn't a really horrible sadness on my shoulders.
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If I Stay Review
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Alyssa

I thought this book was amazing. I recieved it from my school book club and I couldn't put it down. It is one of my favorites. I think it was well written and had a lot of emotion in it. The only thing I would want is to have a bit of a longer ending; to see how she deals with losing her family when she has people now.
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Great book
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Jillian R

Being
a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series, I just had to get my hands on
this on the day of its release. I have to say, I'm incredibly happy I
did so. I'm going to go straight to the point: I LOVED THIS BOOK and I
highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

Now that I got that crucial
part out, it's up to you if you would like to continue reading this
review. The truth is, I only have positive things to say about this
addicting novel. The only negative thing I can think of is that this is
just too incomplete -- it is torture that we have to wait for the next
chapter of The Kane Chronicles to come out! Nevertheless, I'm here to
explain exactly why I loved it so.
First off, there's no doubt about
it; Rick Riordan can write. Once again, he does an awesome job
combining mythology with the modern world. His wordplay is still as
effective, most especially
when he gives details, whether they're on the story's settings or on
character descriptions. This allowed me to truly have a clear and vivid
depiction of what's going on. Also, I appreciated the fact that there
was just enough background information on Egyptian mythology, without
it sounding like a boring lecture -- this is important, actually, as I
certainly don't want to feel like I'm reading a textbook!

The
main thing that I loved about this though, are the main characters
themselves; Carter and Sadie. I love them, because they seem so real --
I was able to empathize, root, and feel for them. I also liked that in
the book, they both get to be narrators. I thought at first it wasn't
going to work. Fortunately, it did. Having two completely different
POVs let me get the entire picture, and get both sides instead of just
one. You also really get how distinct the two of them are -- and their
personalities -- through their voices. By the end of the book, I felt
like I truly had a grasp of what this series is ultimately all about,
and who the characters truly are. So overall, I loved this novel
because it is well-written, exciting, believable, and is rich with
complex and multifaceted characters. It is a series I will definitely
be looking forward to.

If you are to read this, try to take it for what it is, without high expectations, and you might enjoy it even more ;)
Please
note also: try not to compare it to the Percy Jackson series, because
this is really different, even though it is still about mythology. The
characters and their voices are absolutely different. But okay, maybe
some of you are still wondering: Was it better than the Percy Jackson
series? Hmmm... the truth is, I think I'm just incredibly biased,
because Percy Jackson and Greek mythology will always have a special
place for me. However, I also can't deny how much I enjoyed and loved
this one as well. You decide. For me, The Red Pyramid gets 5 stars.



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From the Outside Looking In
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Jinxie

This is the tragic and hopeful story of a 17 year old girl, Mia, a talented cello-ist, whose family is killed in a car accident.  She is critically injured in the same accident and in a coma, but is able to leave her body and see what is happening around the hospital.  She sees who comes and sits in the waiting room:   her boyfriend, her best friend, her family...  And the question is, should she stay or should she go?  Find out her decision by reading this book...
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emotional book
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by kathy

"If I Stay" is a book about a teenage girl, named Mia, who gets in a car accident one day while driving with her family. While in a coma, she has some flashbacks that have to do with her family, friends, and her boyfriend.
This was a very emotional book. At some points you could laugh about something and the next you're crying. It was also very interesting and you find it hard to put down. I think that it will grab the attention of readers who give it a try.

The only thing i didn't like about "If I Stay" was the ending. I wished that the author kept going and let us know what happened to Mia. Other than that, it was a brilliant book.


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