Sunday, October 23, 2011

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

With me being buried in schoolwork 24/7 I haven’t had much time for reading and or blogging, in which case, I decided it was time to call for back up. My mom loves reading YA just as much as I do and we share the same taste in books. So I turned on my youngest daughter charm and convinced her to write a few reviews for me =) You may already know my mom a.k.a Ruth from her blog Out on a Limb: Shy Writer Goes Social. If not just click on the link to check it out.

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
# Of Pages: 208
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: April 2, 2009
Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5 Hearts


(From Barnes&

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. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.

Her Verdict

First off, I confess, I purchased this book because of the beautiful cover. But that's not much of a confession; a lot of you probably judge books by their covers all time. The part that's truly hard to fess up to is the fact that I put it on my bookshelf, and forgot about it - for years. I finally read it last month, using the receipt, dated July 23, 2009, as my bookmark.

I love the family dynamics in this story. Who says you need a dysfunctional family to create drama? Mia is part of a healthy, loving family, but there's nothing boring about them. Her father is an ex-musician who is finally growing up and has become a schoolteacher, and her mother has a regular 9-5 job but is still a rocker at heart. Then there’s her little brother Teddy, as well as extended family.

Much of the focus is on Mia and her boyfriend, Adam, who are brought together through their love of music. For her it's playing cello in the orchestra. For him it's as lead singer/guitarist in a punk rock band. She’s got her eye on Julliard and he and his band are trying to make a name for themselves on the tour scene. It’s those differences that make their relationship a challenge.

Tragedy strikes early on in this book, but we get to know the characters through Mia’s recollections as she waits to find out the fate of her loved ones, as well as her own. In the end it comes down to a decision, does she still have anything left to live for?

This book has its fair share of tragedy, but at its heart it's uplifting as well, because it’s just as much about the bonds of Mia's relationships as it is about losing them.

The best part about reading this book two years late is that I didn't have to wait for the sequel. Heck, I didn't even know there was a sequel. As I closed If I Stay and ran my hand over the cover, in that way I do when a story I love has ended, my daughter told me there was a second book, and she even went out and picked it up for me!


  1. I love this book so much, it broke my heart, but it was so beautiful. I love her family, and their family dynamic too, like you said, there's nothing boring about her family.

    You should read the second book, i really liked it =)

    great review!

    - juhina

  2. The title was already intriguing, and you're right, I also pick up books by their covers (first impression counts!), but I suppose it's the line below that made me really want to read this book:

    "it’s just as much about the bonds of Mia's relationships as it is about losing them."


  3. I've heard a lot about this book. I'm so glad you shared. Sounds like it has a lot of good things. I need to get it on my TBR list - I've been meaning to do it forever, but keep forgetting. I'm doing it NOW! :)

  4. I really liked If I Stay. The sequel was good, but for me not as good as the first.
    Btw I am enjoying your breathtaking covers posts.

  5. Juhina - I agree, it was both beautiful and heartbreaking. What more can you ask for in a book, huh? I did read Where She Went as well and I liked it even better than the first book. I'll review that one next, if Amanda will have me back ;)

    Claudine - It's always interesting to me to see the different covers for the same book. I wonder if I would have been drawn to this book with another cover.

    Abby - So glad you added it to your list. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    Coleen - It was the opposite for me; I like Where She Went even better, possibly because I was already so attached to the characters.

  6. I do believe this one is already on my TBR list at GoodReads. Nice review!

  7. I loved this book too, and, yes, the sequel was even better than this book, amazingly enough. Both of them managed to make my heart ache for the characters, and prose was so evocative and lovely. I'm glad to see you liked it too!

  8. The story is a powerful tale of life and death and the true meaning of friends, family and truly living. Mia is stuck in the in between and she reminisces on her life, her music and her love. In a family where music is a major part of who they are and their personality, Mia's life is intertwined with the notes and melodies of her past. The differences between her music and her families or even her boyfriend Adam's is a testament to how truly diverse life is and how the smallest fragment, music, can be a powerful driving force. Music and Mia's memories are one and the same.


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