Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.”

Two reviews in one night? I just read that fast.

Nah, my review on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a little late because I finished it over the weekend while I was out of town. If I Stay was a quick read (took me 24 hours) and I was able to read most of it on the way home. So yeah, that’s my boring little story on why I’m updating twice in one night.

On to the book! I bought If I Stay quite awhile ago but it was never really a priority on my to-read pile. The only reason I picked it up now is because the movie is coming out this Friday and I want to read the book before I see it. I don’t really know what to say about this book except that I liked it. I thought at first that Mia’s life was a little too idyllic and too perfect. She only has the coolest parents ever and possibly the best home life I’ve ever seen. But the perfection just adds to the overall tragedy and horror of what Mia has lost. It raises the question: how can you return to a life where the people you love most in the world is gone? 

I like the style of the novel, it takes place in the span of a day with flashbacks to Mia’s life before the accident. The story flowed really well as we got to know Mia and all of the people in her life. I like that we also got to see Mia grow up in this way.

And of course there’s the romance. Unlike in most YA novels, the relationship here is already established. Mia and Adam are the perfect high school couple. But they’re exactly that: a high school couple. Near the timeline of the accident, Mia and Adam are having problems as Mia faces the prospect of moving across the country to attend Julliard. This relationship is really well done, from the kind of awkward getting together to the uncertainty of their future together. Mia and Adam really love each other but they’re also aware that they’re very young and there’s still a big world that each of them needs to explore. And the best way to do that is probably not together. It’s a harsh reality to face for a young couple in love but it is reality. And that’s what I like about it. Forman doesn’t attempt to idealize their love or hand the reader some big epic love story.

If I Stay is a book about love and family and really well done in that regard. It tackles loss and how to go on living when you’ve lost what you’re living more. I think the important take away from this book is that no matter how much you lose, there will always be more. As long as you’re alive, there is always something that will make you keep going, even if its sometimes hard to see in the face of what you’ve lost. 

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