December 26, 2012

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Title: If I Stay (If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Release Date: April 2nd, 2009
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Page Count: 234
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

USA Today says that this book will appeal to fans of Twilight. I don't know who decided that was a thing, but it's not. Everything about this book was a million times better than Twilight. So ignore that blurb and read on, book lovers, as you will not be disappointed.

Let's break this down:
UGH. You guys. JUST UGH. I really have no idea why I waited this long to read such an amazing book. All of the things Mia went through... I don't even know.

The craziest part of this book is that we're never told Mia's last name. Her parents aren't given names. In fact, you can't really write out the full name and physical description of any of the characters. And yet, somehow, I still care about everyone.

This is mostly because Gayle Forman is a genius.

I mean, the premise of this story is just so incredibly sad that I'm hooked from minute one. This girl has this great family and then all the sudden they're dead. She's in this coma and she knows they're dead and now she has to decide if she wants to live or not. I don't know about you guys, but I'm not sure what I would do in Mia's place. But the way Gayle Forman pulls this all together is masterful.

Each chapter is half what's happening in real time and half a story from Mia's past. This story structure is honestly brilliant. It lets the reader know exactly what's happening to Mia in the hospital but it also lets us know why we should care. I did already, but in the event that I needed further incentive, these little windows into Mia's life really push me over the edge. Each and every memory broke my heart just a little bit more and made me want Mia to both live and die all at the same time. Which is INSANE.

Not to mention, this whole book is based on the idea of the power of choice and the strength of the commitments we make to one another. It's just so stunningly poignant and relevant to everything everyone does everyday, not just in the face of life and death situations. I mean, how many times a day do we decide and commit to something? Just to get up out of bed each morning and go to wherever we need to be is a choice. Mia makes the biggest choice of her life in this book and we, the reader, are privelged to go through the whole thing with her.

Okay. Enough of the philosophy. Back to the review.

I just don't even know what to tell you guys. It's just like, Gayle Forman took this amazing plot and worked it so hard until she created a book I never could have anticipated. She so wisely uses all 243 pages in this slim little novel to tell us who these people are to her protagonist and why Mia should care enough to live (or not live) for them - no last names or hair colors needed. And it's not like the prose is flowery or anything like that. Sure, there are some good, snarky moments, but mostly the prose just drops the story on your lap and walks away, leaving you just deal with the enormity of it all.

I hope this was coherent. I just have so many feels about this book and I just want everyone to go out, get a copy and read it so I we can all have feels together.

The long and short of it?

Plot: So very well executed.
World Building: Oregon done just right.
Character Development: Ah-freaking-mazing. SHE WAS IN A COMA. LIKE FOUR PEOPLE HAVE NAMES. I can't. It's ridiculous.
Prose: All the right words in all the right places.
Would I Recommend This Book?: YES. Yes, yes, yes, a million times yes. Please everyone go read this book right now.

[PS: I just finished the sequel. I don't know how it's possible, but it's possibly EVEN BETTER. Stay tuned for that unbelievably incoherent review.]


  1. I really need to read this book. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I haven't yet, especially as it sounds brilliant AND I've actually seen Gayle speak about it in person.

    1. Oh man. OH man. I wish I could have been there for that talk. I vote you read the If I Stay series and then we both read Just One Day. Then we can figure out where and when she's speaking and GO. That seems like it would be a fun outing, don't you think?

  2. Wow, so you liked this one? I kid, your review is all the marketing this book would ever need. Great job. New follower via GFC. I wouldn't mind if you wanted to follow back :)

  3. I was a little hesitant about this book, but your review made me want to read it this second! Awesome review.

    1. I wasn't so sure either but everyone was going on and on about Gayle Forman and her new release and I was like, well, if everyone's this excited it must be for SOMETHING. I can now assure you and everyone else that it's all definitely for something.


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