Saturday, March 15, 2014

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heart-achingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.
Wow, that was deep… I’ll be honest, I was REALLY nervous going into this book  for two reasons. One, I was not the biggest fan of the Just One Day/Just One Year books. And Two, I heard that this book would make me cry like a baby, and that’s not necessarily something I crave. I did not know what I was getting myself into when I started this book. What I DID end up getting was a book about love, family, sorrow, life choices, and pure bliss. There is an exquisite display of depth of emotion through the eyes of a young girl and her journey through a limbo of life and death. She has lost ALMOST everything…

~Spoiler Free Review~ 

Writing:  I was very pleasantly surprised by Gayle Forman here. Like I said previously, not her biggest advocate from previous books but wow! Fell in love with her here in If I Stay! Forman has absolutely earned my admiration with this book. I thoroughly enjoyed how the format of this book went from present time to past memories without getting the reader lost in between. I felt that I was able to really grasp the characters by Forman giving bits and pieces throughout the entirety of the book. She was able to make me feel so much sympathy for characters I had only had a measly 200 pages to bond with. This is a very quick, easy read that was thought provoking and left me with a heavy heart and a happy soul.

Side note, the scenes about the main characters family were exquisitely written.

CharactersWhat is not to love about Mia? If I were to be put in her shoes I doubt that I would have had as much strength and grace as was displayed by Mia. She was relatively low on the typical YA drama and angst and these missing aspects made her so much more enjoyable and a main character and narrator.  Mia as a character, combined with Forman’s amazing writing, made Mia easy to follow and understand. I could feel her defeat, her love, her desperation, and her loss. 

I liked Adam, and his lopsided grin. I more so love the relationship that Mia and Adam have. I think it is unusual for YA novels to have a “real” relationship. Not the typical insta-love that is so popular, or the best friend who’s always loved you kind of thing. I really feel as though Adam and Mia have a young love that could last. Don’t get me wrong, they have some relationship hiccups and insecurities, but I think this makes them all the more realistic!

And that moment with her grandfather?! Sobbed… Love Mia’s Grandparents.

PlotWas the plot perfect? Not completely. However, I’m much more forgiving of a few missteps in the plot when the characters are so fantastic. The “plot” was more just a roller coaster of feelings and a chronicle of Mia’s life. The emotions and the issues were understated and they were dispersed between the pages with stunning sentimental memories. The story, while heartbreaking, never seemed to cross into the over-the-top and sappy territories that YA novels often can and do. I enjoyed the love story quite a bit. I found the intimate scenes enjoyable and gushy over the top. In other words, this book avoids the most typical YA drawbacks.I also really enjoyed the aspect of music that is ever so present and is a very essential player in this book. It is used to form bonds, to change lives, and to bring peace and clarity.

Overall, this is a powerfully emotional read. A tragic tale of an unimaginable loss that changes everything you thought you knew and will make you thankful for every blessing in life. Is it sad? Totally. Is it worth it? Worth every word. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a book around life and death and the unknown. For anyone looking for some great YA family relationships or just want a good sob. In my opinion this is a must read for all fans of YA contemporary novels. This is a piece of work that displays exactly how talented Forman is. And that ending?! Ugh… book #2 here I come.

“I’ll let you go, if you stay.”

I really liked it.
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  1. I thouroughly enjoyed this book too. I have been trying to find the sequel. But I cant find it at the library. I might be buying it. I am glad you liked it.

    1. Honestly, I would say buy it! I read both of them as library copies and I know I will buy the set in the near future just to have the story on hand at a moments notice. I have to LOVE a book to buy it after reading it and I won't even hesitate to pick up this duology!

      If you liked this one I'm curious what you think of the next one, let me know when you read it!