Book Review: If I Stay

Title/Author:  If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Published:  April 2nd, 2009 by Dutton Juvenile

Hardcover, 199 pages

How I Got This Book:  Checked it out from my library.

Why I Picked It Up?:  This is one of those novels that bloggers rave about.  And as Gayle Forman will be at YALLfest in a couple of weeks, I moved it up my TBR list!

Book Jacket Blurb:  ” ‘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, on 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 heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of fmaily, and the choices we all make.”

My Review of this Work:

I almost picked up the audiobook of this novel, but decided to listen to White Cat instead.  In retrospect, I am VERY glad that I did this, because this is a type of novel I would have much rather read for myself.  When a book is a serious read, I tend to do better reading words on a page than just listening.  And honestly, I had no idea what kind of story I was getting myself into when I picked this book up.  I just knew that a lot of bloggers LOVED it.  But they didn’t bother to mention just how emotional this story is!

(No plot details.  I knew nothing about this one going into it, and I think I liked the surprise factor more.  If you want some deets about the storyline, I am sure you can find other more plot-centered reviews via Goodreads. )

What I really loved about this novel was the way in which Gayle Forman decided to tell this story.  Her story-telling style is what I would call non-linear; it incorporates a lot of flashbacks in between the present-time story (Think LOST).  But these flashbacks allow us as readers to really get a feel for her character:  her love for music, her love for her family and friends, and her love for a certain boy named Adam.  To me, this is what makes this novel stand out from other contemporary/realistic young adult novels.  The non-linear story-line allows for the reader to get a sense of our main girl’s life without having to start at the very beginning (in fact, that wouldn’t have the same effect anyway).  As emotional realistic fiction, If I Stay is about Mia’s connection to the people in her life, and the flashing back to moments in time that have impacted her allow us to connect to her people, too!

In terms of a character and a narrator, I really enjoyed Mia’s voice.  She is a young woman with drive and ambition, but that doesn’t keep her from really loving her life.  Family and friends are a central part of her happiness, and that allowed me to really connect with her more than other contemporary/realistic fiction narrators.  Mia knows what is important and is not ashamed to admit it, and I love it when young adult  narrators are more mature.  Each person in Mia’s life I feel like I know personally.  Teddy, her little brother, is a shining spot in this novel.  Her memories about him will make you giggle and laugh out loud and just smile with true joy.  In fact, all of the characters in this novel are just perfect in all of their quirks and imperfections.  This novel showcases the rawness of real people with their real emotions.  That’s why I really liked this novel.

If I Stay is a powerful novel that really exposes what is truly important in life.  I think the conclusion of this novel is absolutely perfect, and yet there is a sequel novel out there that I am a little hesitant to read.  I just really like where the story ends in this novel.  But maybe I’ll pick up the second one?  Is it worth a read?

My Bookshelf Review:

A Middle Shelf Book!

If you are looking for a book that takes you on an emotional ride, then you need not look further than If I Stay.  This novel really showcases the love of family in a unique narrative tale.  Shocking, haunting, and completely real, Mia’s story will break your heart and make you laugh at the same time.  A great, short read.

Love and Peanut Butter,


4 thoughts on “Book Review: If I Stay

  1. Laura Ashlee says:

    I actually think this might be better on audio. There's no real way for me to know that for sure, but I listened to the audio and Kirsten Potter's performance was so emotional that it made me cry a few times. It made me adore this book beyond words.I wish I could say the same about the second book. Though I love that book too, it's read by a different narrator (a man) and doesn't have quite the same effect.

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