Megan's Reviews > If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
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's review
Apr 11, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: not-mine-library, young-adult

If I Stay is a beautifully written book. That goes without saying. I hate describing why I like a book, because it seems that my pitiful description can never come close to the real thing. So I won't try here, because lord knows that so many others have already written glowing reviews about this novel. But despite the fantastic writing I have to give this only 3 stars, possibly 2.5. Yes, the story is heartbreaking and powerful at times. Unfortunately I was unable to fully believe or relate to Mia.

As we know from the synopsis, this story revolves around high school senior Mia as she hangs out in limbo, trying to decide whether she should fight to stay in this life, or leave for the next one. The reader is given a brief glimpse of Mia and her family before a terrible car accident. After the accident, Mia's spirit hovers near her real life body and flashes back and forth between what is really happening and memories about her family, friends and life. Forman's writing is so good and so captivating that it took me nearly midway through the book to realize what a truly blessed life Mia has. She comes from a long line of loving, supportive family members who not only embrace individuality and rebellion but encourage it. Mia's parents are so cool, so supportive... she has a great relationship with her little brother... an amazing best friend... an even more amazing boyfriend....and is loaded with musical talent. Her life is certainly charmed, and I have to credit Forman for not making it glaringly obvious or sticky sweet. It's not something that is really evident at the beginning of the story. Rather, as the story continues the reader is aware of how rare and magical Mia’s life is. And it is hard to see why Mia wouldn't stay. The girl has had a life free of conflict. Her hardest times stem from personal insecurities, rather than outside influences. Her only real conflict (up until the time of the accident) was deciding between a scholarship to Julliard, or to remain in Oregon so she is closer to her soon-to-be-a-punk-rock-star boyfriend. Oh, the choices! Yeah ~ it is tough to choose between personal goals and love… especially intense, hormone driven teen love. But even here, Mia’s parents tell her they will support her decision either way and don’t even try to influence her one way or the other.

Initially, I simply didn't understand Mia's battle between fighting to live or letting go. My life isn't half as charmed as hers and I can't imagine giving up. Even when Mia is in a coma in ICU, her friends and family tell her it is ok if she wants to "go" This girl has been supported, coddled and loved by everyone her whole life. Perhaps that is why it is so hard for her to deal with a real issue? Regardless, the one flaw in If I Stay was its lack of flaws. In writing such a perfect world, family and friends Forman made it too difficult for me to identify with her protagonist.
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Reading Progress

April 11, 2010 – Shelved
June 30, 2010 – Started Reading
Finished Reading
July 1, 2010 –
page 117
July 1, 2010 –
page 199
July 1, 2010 – Shelved as: not-mine-library
July 1, 2010 – Shelved as: young-adult

Comments (showing 1-8)

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Tatiana I enjoyed this one. Cried too.

Megan It's a slow start... but I'm liking it so far.

Vinaya SO, I've discovered that you're the only friend I have who's not raving about If I Stay! Can I huddle close to you for comfort? :-/

Megan Yes, let's band together! Like you, all of my GR friends have raved over this book ~ but also like you, I felt somewhat disconnected from it. It was beautiful & shiney, but untouchable.

I wasn't planning on continuing this series, but now I'm looking forward to reading your review of Where She Went :)

Lisa Great review. I agree whole heartedly with everything you've written.

Megan Thanks Lisa. The majority of my friends absolutely loved this one, so it's nice to hear that someone else also had a difficult time relating to Mia. You are right, she was a little Mary Sue.

Ceecee i couldn't relate with Mia too, and thought that it was a too perfect world. glad to know i still have friends in GR who don't rave about this book. ;P
still, i'm curious to know if it's improved in Where She Went, and i really love music stories.

Megan Where She Went was more of the same, lots of Mia-worship. I like Adam's character but became frustrated with him in that book. Give it a try, I would love to read your thought on it!

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