Friday, May 16, 2014

If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman

Title: If I Stay
Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Paranormal
Format: Paperback; 320 pages
Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)
ISBN-10: 014241543X
ISBN-13: 978-0142415436
Author's Website:
Notes: I borrowed this one from the library.

"Don't you doubt for a second that she can hear you," she tells them. "She's aware of everything that's going on." She stands there with her hand on her hips. I can almost picture her snapping gum. Gran and Gramps stare at her, lapping up what she's telling them. You might think that the doctors or nurses or all this is running the show." she says, gesturing to the wall of medical equipment. "Nuh-uh. She's running the show. Maybe she's just biding her time. So you talk to her. You tell her to take all the time she needs, but to come on back. You're waiting for her."

Mia's life was a happy one until tragedy struck. Her family was in a fatal car crash and she's the only one still alive. Now stuck in limbo between life and death she needs to decide whether to stay or let go. There are no bright lights or angels trying to lead the way. There aren't any other spirits of either the dead or of others lingering in limbo like her. There is just Mia and her memories and the still living family members and friends who are hoping to persuade her to stay.

'I don’t even understand how it all works, why I’m here in the state that I’m in or how to get out of it if I wanted to. If I were to say, I want to wake up, would I wake up right now? I already tried snapping my heels to find Teddy and trying to beam myself to Hawaii, and that didn’t work. This seems a whole lot more complicated.

But in spite of that, I believe it’s true. I hear the nurse’s words again. I am running the show. Everyone’s waiting on me. 

I decide. I know this now. 

And this terrifies me more than anything else that has happened today.' 


Mia was a girl who had everything going for her. She had dreams of playing the cello in the New York Philharmonic orchestra. Her father was in a rock band until the time her baby brother was born and he's slowly been turning from a tattoo touting rocker in a leather jacket to a throw back from the 50's Leave It to Beaver era swapping out his guitar for the textbooks of a middle school teacher. Granted, his brand of parenting would probably clash with that of Ward Cleaver, but he gets by. Her mother was an outspoken tell-it-like-it-is feminist who doesn't pressure her daughter to do the right thing, but instead pushes her to think things through to come to the right conclusion. She loved her baby brother something fierce and will miss all of them. While perhaps not the perfect life, it was damn close. She still has a boyfriend that she loves, and a best friend who will always have her back. Grandparents who love her. In one minute, however, half of the life she'd once knew was taken away and she finds herself literally making the decision of her life. Does she go with the rest of her immediate family or stay and face the music that is life and deal with the pain and anguish that will accompany the knowledge she'll have to go on without them?

What I like about the book is it is all written from Mia's perspective. We see her first realization she's been in an accident. We gradually learn her story as she sifts through her memories. We get an intimate view of what she's lost and what she still has waiting for her if she stays. We see her inner struggle as she realizes her fate lies in her own hands and is waiting for her to choose. While at first she feels the choice is a curse, she slowly realizes its a gift because not everyone is so lucky to have a choice. We, as the reader, become the one cheering her from the sideline to make the right choice. If she stays the road ahead will not be easy. She's suffered injuries and will need healing both inside and out. Mia even admits, "I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard."

I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed the emotional roller coaster. Ms. Forman knows how to bring emotion to life and draw us into the story. Perhaps not the best book to read if you recently suffered a loss, but a great great book none the less that will tug at your heartstrings.  

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