If I Stay (If I Stay #1)
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. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.
17-year old cello prodigy, Mia, faces an inexplicable choice in the aftermath of a horrific car accident. With her entire family dead and her consciousness seemingly thrown from her mangled, comatose body, will she choose to return alone to the world of the living or finalize the separation to join the unknown fate of her loved ones?
This book took a unique, non-formulaic approach to telling a story—I have to applaud it for that. But I'm sorry to say the approach didn't really work for this reader. The primary difficulty arose because the car accident happens so very early on in the book, we've barely been introduced to any of these people who's lives are then cut short. It sounds callous in a sense, but I didn't really get a chance to know them or decide if I cared about their fate. And then they were gone. So I erected an immediate mental wall against the idea of becoming attached to them, even when Mia starts the getting-to-know-us flashbacks to show readers why they should care that these people are now dead. Compounding the connection difficulty, Mia's mental detachment from bodily sensations resulted in this reader sharing in that disengaged point of view.
Mia's clinical, dispassionate state does ease off in the form of largely mundane memories—some of which contain snippets of visceral emotion that readers may be able to cling to. Through her disembodied eyes we spend at least half of the time following her voyeuristic journey as she watches herself, watches her grieving friends and extended family, and watches them watching over her unresponsive body. For the situation being so dire, the pacing is almost meandering and the tension remains remarkably low.
There's a bit of forced-feeling excitement for a moment when Mia's rocker boyfriend decides to bypass working with Mia's family to get in to see her and instead concocts an overly-elaborate attention-needy plan to storm the ICU in a manner that could only result in his detention, if not arrest. At which point, I lost all hope and interest in said boyfriend. (Sorry, I just couldn't buy the “grand romantic gesture” thing. That was a last resort move, but for some reason, he jumped straight to the needlessly extreme approach without first exhausting other options.)
When this reader initially noticed If I Stay, it was being billed as something fans of The Twilight Series shouldn't miss. I haven't the slightest idea why. Aside from the super-lite paranormal aspect and Pacific Northwest setting, there's almost nothing that could call to mind Stephanie Meyer's books—for better or worse. (Regardless of how you felt about Twilight, this just struck me as a poor marketing tactic.) There was little-to-no worldbuilding (and oddly little philosophizing) to the paranormal element, no struggle with the nature of humanity, no underlying battle between good and evil, no super-attractive super-powered immortal boyfriend... **cough**
I was particularly bothered that story lacks sensuality, while seeming to present teenage sex in a casual, flippant manner that boarders on virgin-shaming. At least the sex is more implied than graphic, but still...
Note: Super-cool parents are, of course, totally supportive of sexy boyfriend sleepovers and moderate underage drinking. Because they're just that cool.
The main saving grace, for this reader, was the almost spiritual connection the main character had to the cello. Only when her cello-playing was involved did the story begin to feel engaging and believable. While there was a huge emphasis on music and its binding influence on all of the people in Mia's life—in one way or another—none felt as though their relationship was ever close to being as authentic as Mia's. She describes her experiences playing the cello in a way that struck a more poignant chord than the plot itself.
Side note: I'm vaguely disappointed that, with all of the punk and indie music references being thrown about in this book, one obvious song was never tapped for it's fitting irony: Should I Stay or Should I Go, by The Clash.
Okay, maybe that would have been a little...wrong. >.
She is bitching at her mother about not crying and being strong for her. How in the hell can you talk to your mom like that while your friend, who is dying in a hospital, just lost both her parents? She is an orphan now. She will never get to see her mother mourn over anything again.
I hated her from then on out. I couldn't fall in love with the book because of her (yes, very small part, but she made a big impact with her nasty attitude).
It started out boring, then some stuff happened in the flashbacks, and then it ended. Boom. Just like that.
Not the best. But I will still see the movie. Only reason I read it in the first place.
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.
With much love,
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.
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!
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.”"
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.]
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.
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.
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
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.