Tuesday 7 June 2011

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Yep, I finally read If I Stay.

It's taken me this long because, while I picked it up last year, out of curiousity for the story of a girl who loses her family in a car crash and has to decide whether she wants to live or die - that curiousity wasn't strong enough to overcome my fear of being utterly depressed by it. So it sat languishing at the bottom of my TBR pile for months. And months. Then I started blogging, and Where She Went came out, and my feed was filled with ridonkulous amounts of praise for both novels. That motivated me to finally see what I was missing out on (and also the fact that SPOILER thanks to Where She Went reviews, I knew that Mia chose to stay and that assuaged my fears somewhat).

Which brings me to today. I started reading If I Stay on the bus this morning, and continued on the bus on the way home. Five hours later, I'm finished, and boy have I been on an emotional rollercoaster. Starting with dread (for what I knew was coming), climbing to love, love, love (for Mia, Mia's family, and especially for Adam), before rocketing down to despair and then, ultimately, smoothing out to a sense of hope. I was surprised to find that, like the blurb on the back says, the book IS actually life-affirming. Simply and elegantly told, with wonderful, realistic characters and raw, touching emotions, I absolutely loved If I Stay. So now I sit here, sad, but not utterly depressed - a good thing, for sure. But my mind is starting to go into overdrive thinking about what I've just read - not such a good thing considering it's about 10 minutes past my bedtime. Hopefully if I get all those thoughts out now they won't haunt my dreams. But Mia might. Teddy definitely will.

Rating: 4/5

Talking Points (Spoilers if you're still living under a rock and haven't read it yet)
  • The scenes that got to me the most: The state of Mia's dad after the crash - I wanted to vomit. The flashback to Mia and her mum shopping while her mum was in labour with Teddy - in that scene, more than any other, I really "saw" Mia's mum and felt the full tragedy. Then, anything involving Teddy - the moment Mia realises he's gone, her urge to cuddle him and feel his curls and the realisation she never will again - oh, God, talk about pulling the heartstrings. Finally, the end, when Adam's begging Mia to stay and she makes her choice. Sigh.
  • Speaking of Adam - OK, now I see what all the fuss is about. Swoon alert!
  • The book definitely got me thinking about what would you do if, God forbid, you were faced with Mia's choice? I honestly couldn't answer. I like how the book ended; how Mia realised there was still a lot to live for and especially how by living, she could hold on to the memory of her family, but goodness, if I was in that position, I don't know if I could do it.
  • I'm kinda glad it took me this long to read If I Stay, because now I can't wait to dive into Where She Went! I'm tempted to start now, but I really must be getting to bed...
Eye Candy

I know Mia is supposed to be a brunette, but the only person I could picture was Emma Stone in all her red-headed awesomeness (none of this blonde Emma)...

...Perhaps because the happy, quirky family scene that the book opened with instantly reminded me of Easy A (LOVE that movie).

As for Adam, well the first person who popped into my head was Adam Brody (maybe it was the name?), but then I remembered the creepy rock star he played in Jennifer's Body and I soon got rid of that image. Thankfully, Darren Criss quickly filled in. Not convinced he's a good Adam? How about this...

Look how hot he is with a guitar! If that isn't Adam, I don't know what is. What's that? You're still not sure?!

You asked for it! OK, I really just wanted an excuse to post this picture.

I don't need an excuse to post this one. Phwoar! Thankyou, Darren Criss, I no longer feel sad.
Fine Print
Genre: Young Adult
Get It: Book Depository

Challenge: Books I Should Have Read By Now


  1. I'm so glad you liked it! I don't think the book nearly pulled at me as much as it did everyone else but that's just me and my personality. I do agree though that the book is simply beautiful.

    I totally want my own Adam! Though, it was easy to imagine him as mine since I have the same name as the main character!

  2. It still sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. Now after reading your review (minus the spoilers :P), definitely going to be in the next 1 or 2 books I read. Thanks!

  3. Mia - Yes, I loved it, though I think I'm like you, it didn't floor me quite as much as I thought it would - I teared up, but there was no sobbing. ;)

    Alisa - Great! Can't wait to know what you think of it :)

  4. Belle: I didn't sob either. I didn't actually tear until the very end, when Adam gives that speech to Mia. The things he says to her then, major SWOON!

  5. This has been one of those books I have een, picked up, read the blurb, kept in in my hand until it was time to pay and then scurried back to put it back on the shelf. I may just give it a try now though.


  6. Alex, I was unsure of it initially too but I'm so glad I read it. Let me know if you do! :)

  7. Honestly Belle, I was an emotional mess after reading IIS.

    I agree. I think it is good you waited to read it until WSW was out so you could have them back to back. It was an agonizing wait for me.

    Your talking points have me sobbing all over again.

    Thanks for the eye candy, that helped cheer me up!

  8. Sorry to reawaken this sleeping review but I've just bought this one because I think I'm the only girl in the world who hasn't read it!
    I'm a bit nervous that I'll become an emotional mess afterwards though. Ha.
    Great review!

    Also- Emma Stone AND Darren Criss?! You spoil us, Belle, you really do. ;-)

  9. Oooh hope you like it, Jo! I hope you have Where She Went too because if you're anything like me you'll want to read it immediately after finishing this one :)

  10. If I Stay was a different sort of book for me; I don't read much contemporary. Parts of it were great, and others...not so much. What I really loved about it: the drama. What I wasn't a huge fan of: the drama. No, there's no typo there. Let me explain.
    After Mia and her family become victims of a horrible car accident, Mia soon realizes that her conscious has stepped outside her body and can watch everything going on around her. She can't interact with anyone, and they don't know she's there; but she can hear and see everything they say and do.
    I loved everything that happened after the accident - everyone visiting her in the hospital. I also really liked her description of the accident, itself. It was graphic enough to make me shudder but not over the top. The issue of a car crash really hits home with a lot of people, I think, because most of us have been in one before and know how scary they are.

    1. Yes the description of the accident was pretty intense. It was well done overall I thought. What parts did you not like as much?

  11. Left me a little cold.

  12. I thought this was a great read too. It’s on my short-list of must reads for 2011 . Your review was great and hit everything that makes this book special.

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