Book review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)If I Stay by Gayle Forman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is a book that’s been getting some attention recently because of the book adaptation hitting the theatres starring Chloë Moretz. I read the book in December of last year and I did not know at the time that it was going to be turned into a motion picture. I got this book from my friend Andrea who mentioned that it was quite an emotional book, so in the midst of all the Christmas fun I secluded myself for a day to finish this relatively short book.

If I Stay is a story about a young woman named Mia who is involved in a car crash that kills her entire family, aside from her. She is rushed to the hospital where she remains in a coma, but Mia witnesses everything as if she is no longer attached to her body. She is almost like a ghost, floating to the side and observes how her remaining family and friends react to the family’s passing and the fact that Mia is in a coma. Pretty heavy stuff – and definitely an emotional ride as predicted.

I really enjoyed If I Stay, because the story doesn’t necessarily focus on the sad, but moves back to all the happy memories Mia has of her family and friends. You basically learn about her life and her reasons of living through her flashbacks. Sometimes, if people come to visit her and sit by her bed, Mia remembers situations and these situations are then relayed to the reader. Though the story is fast paced and you have very little information to work with at the beginning of the story, I felt that towards the end I’d been reading about her life and her family for about five volumes.

It was written in a very believable way – Mia’s frustration in not being able to wake herself up when she’s just kind of hanging around her own body, wanting to return to her family, but also the frustration of the people who care about her. Mia’s friends want her back, her remaining family wants her back, but at the same time there’s also those thoughts whether Mia would be better off moving on. Mia herself starts to deal with these thoughts and eventually has to make a decision. A tough one.

The story has a little bit of romance involved, which I’m sure if you’ve seen the trailer for the movie, you knew already. I feel like the movie is focusing mostly on the romance, whereas when I read the book the romance was a part of the story, not 90% of it. Maybe I just experienced the story different than others or how it was intended to, because the romance was an important part of the story and Adam, Mia’s boyfriend, was present in a lot of chapters. This, at the same time was also the part that started to bug me a little – it’s getting a little repetitive that the boy is the most important thing in a girl’s life, but I can’t deny it was a pretty story. Still, I felt like family and in general friendship was the most important part that kept returning in the book, whereas the movie seemed to be advertised as a mostly romance story. I could be wrong, but that’s the feeling the trailer gave me.

I would definitely recommend reading this book before you see the movie, because like I said up here, I experienced it completely different than what the movie seems to offer. It is a very emotional story that’ll demand the reader to almost make a decision as to what you want to happen to Mia – life or afterlife? I almost felt like I had to make this decision with her towards the end, and I like it when books get that immersive.

I highly encourage anyone to pick this up if you have the option to. Four out of five stars for Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, a beautiful story about life, love, family and friendship.



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