Brooke Shirts's Reviews > If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
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Jul 05, 2009

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Read in May, 2009

A tearjerker in the grand tradition: Mia is a cellist, has a wonderful boyfriend, has just been accepted to Julliard, and is in a coma. Her family has been nearly obliterated in a car crash, and as doctors and nurses work to revive her, Mia wanders, disembodied, through the hospital, remembering various scenes from her life and trying to decide if life is worth continuing.

Here's the funny thing: I read this novel concurrently with Forman's nonfiction travel memoir, You Can't Get There From Here, without realizing until NOW that they were by the same author. But since I've made the (duh) connection, it's easy to see in this novel the same love for colorful, on-the-fringes, living hard-core characters that exists in her nonfiction writing: Mia's parents are retired rockers, her boyfriend plays in a rising punk band. Forman is able to make her readers love her minor characters just as much as she does, making Mia's dilemma all the more acute; her descriptive passages are frequently very imaginative, bouncing from the viscerally raw to the sublime. Some of the situations seem contrived (such as a scheme involving a famous singer and hospital security) and a few times I felt the emotional tweaks were a little over the top.

A few racy scenes appear and rock-and-roll language pepper the dialogue, making this perhaps a good pick for kids who enjoyed Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, especially if they're in the mood for a good cry.

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