Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

if i stay

After going on a drive with her family in the wintry snow, Mia’s previous decisions of college/ music/ boyfriend don’t seem to matter anymore. The only truly important one is whether she stays to make those decisions, or goes to be free of all responsibility.

The book begins very intensely. You’re casually reading along, enjoying the background about Mia’s life and family, then– BOOM– car crash and the world is flipped upside down.

It’s written in a way where the reader is both in Mia’s spirit form (for lack of a better word) and inside her flashbacks. Since the crash is within the first chapter, the flashbacks allow the reader to connect with Mia and her family and gradually feel the loss as heavily as she feels it.

The characters are so relatable, and Mia’s love story with Adam is so sweet it hurts. The flashbacks are typical of a teenager with a loving family, and the reader can slip their own family into the memories without a problem, which makes the book that much more heart-wrenching.

It’s an easy book to follow, and even easier to read. The pace isn’t always action, but it’s a page-turner. In some aspects, it’s a one-sitting book, but that’s also not that good of a thing.

It’s so short. SO SHORT. In the back of my copy, there is the first chapter of the next book and a couple other things (reading guide, acknowledgements…), so when I was reading, I thought I had at least another 50 pages to go. But no. It just ended. I turned the page expecting the next chapter, and instead I found a blank sheet. My jaw dropped and I probably stayed that way long enough to catch a whole family of flies.

Due to its length, I felt like I couldn’t connect with Mia enough. It has the potential to be a sob-story, but instead, I felt empty and more upset about the abrupt ending than anything else.

When the crash happened, I was completely horrified. My heart beat faster and my brows furrowed and I read like my life depended on it. With white knuckles I flipped the pages, and my shoulders tensed up to my ears. Yet I wasn’t crying. I think it’s because since the crash happened so early, I didn’t feel the pain like I should have.

That being said, there is no possible way to have the crash later in the book and still capture the unique essence of the limbo Mia finds herself in.

I really, truly loved this book despite my raving on the length. It’s so different and scary to think about and made me talk about the characters like my own friends while I read. I yearned to see more of these characters, and you know it’s a fabulous book when you’re heartbroken it ended.

I wouldn’t call it a grab-your-tissues-type novel, but it’s definitely a tear-jerker and interesting to read.

4 Stars

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One thought on “Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Sequels I Can’t Wait to Get | Stealing Pages

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