If I Stay: What Would You Do if You Had to Choose?

Inspired by the new movie, directed by R.J. Cutler and starring Chloë Grace Moretz (have you guessed it yet?!), I am reviewing If I Stay, a young adult novel written by Gayle Forman and one that really should make us all a little more thankful for all that we have in life.


If I Stay, tells the tragic tale of Mia Hall, a 17 year-old girl who loses her family in a violent car accident.  When she wakes up after impact, she is aghast to find that she is in a coma.  Mia truly has an out-of-body experience, while watching her best friend, family, and boyfriend, attempting to deal with the loss of Mia’s parents and younger brother, Teddy as well as her own pending death.  This book focuses on the idea of controlling one’s own destiny; what would you do if you could decide whether to live or die?  Would you live a life with no family?  Or die and leave the boy you love behind?


The most interesting feature of Gayle Forman’s style of writing and overall theme would be how much it absorbs readers who can truly identify with various aspects of the book; a quirky girl who isn’t the most confident, the heartthrob boyfriend who provides a classic love story, but also- and most important- the ease with which readers can swap places with the heroine.  I applaud Forman for her fluidity and storytelling technique, paired with a fascinating ability to keep Mia abstract enough so that any teenager could fill her shoes and take on her uphill battle.


That being said, there were some issues I had with the structure of Mia’s ghostlike state.  The most obvious of these flaws was that Mia couldn’t feel anything while in between life and death.  Obviously eliminating the physical pain while she wasn’t inside her body was a no-brainer, but I didn’t understand why the author chose to make her heroine void of any emotions at all.  I think it would have greatly added to the story to have her process the accident along with the reader, but instead I just felt like Mia was cold and one dimensional, as out of the two of us, I was the only one who felt the loss of her family.

This novel ended with a cliffhanger that I found myself anxious over.  When I found out that there was a second book in the series, I was thrilled!  Though this book wasn’t one of my favorite recent-reads, it is definitely a novel that I would recommend to any reader out there who enjoys a love story, intriguing main character, and plotline that asks deep questions.



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