My rating: 4/5
‘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.
Everybody has to make choices. Some might break you.
For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, decisions might seem tough, but they’re all about a future full of music and love, a future that’s brimming with hope.
But life can change in an instant.
A cold February morning . . . a snowy road . . . and suddenly all of Mia’s choices are gone. Except one.
As alone as she’ll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.
Haunting, heartrending and ultimately life-affirming, If I Stay will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you’ve lost–and all that might be.
If I Stay is a book about one of the biggest decisions Mia must make. Forman has crafted a heartbreaking tale with solid characters and very real problems. If I Stay is proof that the Young Adult genre is not just for silly stories for teenagers. This is a stellar thought-provoking, contemporary novel that will stick with me for a long time.
Not so quick review
My amazing sister from the OTSP Secret Sister programme sent me If I Stay as a read-along book, and I was supposed to read it two weekends ago. I seem to be terrible recently at sticking to reading plans, and I still think the reason I didn’t read it at the time was because I’d OD’d on contemporaries. (They’re not my typical genre, even though I do enjoy them… just… maybe not so many so quickly.)
Anyway, I’m sitting now in the airport, getting ready to fly back from Aalborg, Denmark to Gatwick Airport in the UK. I’ve had an incredibly fun, relaxing and freeing weekend with Ely from TeaandTitles.com, and I am so glad we found each other in the blogosphere earlier this year. Ely, you and I are clearly compatible travellers. So I’m sitting here, thinking about how incredible this long weekend was while also holding the enormity of If I Stay in my mind–and it’s only about 200 pages. It’s moved me so much, that I had to write this review immediately, which is weird for me, especially recently.
Simply put, If I Stay is about deciding whether or not to keep living when the life you know suddenly and devastatingly ends. Mia is 17, the daughter to two ex-punk rockers and big sister to a lively little brother. She has a straight-talking best friend and a wonderfully sweet guitarist boyfriend. She’s just auditioned for Julliard, and her future as a professional cellist looks bright. Until it doesn’t. And now Mia is stuck in limbo, deciding between two monumental options.
I loved all the characters. They were real, not stereotypical. I loved that Mia was a classical music buff, but she wasn’t portrayed as a “super geek”, with straight A’s and a serious demeanour. I thought the parents were cool, not just undeveloped side characters. Forman, flipping between the present and the past, also showed real relationships, like how Kim and Mia became friends through a fist fight, or how Mia and Adam had that genuine problem of what to do when Mia graduates. Mia’s insecurities were real, too. Everything was so scary real.
I didn’t really cry during the book, though there was moment near the end with Kim that made my tear ducts prickle a bit. The tears came afterward, thinking about what I would do in Mia’s situation.
My only wish about the book was that there was more. I wish I could have gotten to know Kim, Adam, Teddy, Mia’s parents and the other characters more. While Forman definitely gave enough for them all to be three-dimensional, I missed them when I got to the end. I couldn’t believe it when the book was over! I almost ordered the sequel, Where She Went, straight after.
*Spoiler in the paragraph below*
[But then I read the blurb and didn’t think I could take more heartache. I’m going to live in my happy bubble for a while, imagining that everyone is ok, and that Adam and Mia live happily ever after.]
Overall, I applaud Forman for taking on this story and bringing the characters to life during a terrible time. The book is short and simply written, but it in no way lacks meaning. If I Stay is a YA novel that proves why YA should be taken more seriously.
Guest review contributed by Dani Reviews Things. A well traveled reader, Dani likes to review books from multiple different genres. She provides a little something in each review for the long and the TLDR reader.