If I Stay – Gayle Forman

Synopsis from Goodreads.
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck…

A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.




“The cello didn’t sound half bad with all those guitars.”

Initial Final Page Thoughts.

High Points.
Mia. The family. Groovy and the Geek. Music. Kim. Chocolate chip pancakes. Fancy dress parties. Brilliant characters. Two weeks of pizza-delivery tips. Feisty nurses. Making collages. Magic kisses. Musical sexy times. Dusty collections of punk-rock albums. Yo Mama. “I’ll let you go. If you stay.”

Low Points.
Even though I love Mia’s family and I liked that they were different without being cringey, no family is that perfect, right?
Also, I don’t think I could take a boy seriously if he was in a band called Shooting Star.
I mean, doesn’t Adam know that you can only be cool nowadays if your band name includes the phrase “and the”?
Liz and the Shooting Star.
There you go.
Much better.

Oh Mia, what a narrator!
I like to think we’d be friends but I think I’d be completely intimidated by you if we went to the same school. I don’t even know who Yo-Yo Ma is. I wouldn’t even know what to do with a cello if I were presented with one. I’d want to schneck your boyfriend. I’d be around at your house every day asking for chocolate chip pancakes.
I can’t even comprehend what it would like to be in Mia’s situation and I don’t want to, but Ms Forman really made me relate to her.
I felt her desperation, her frustration, her love and her loss.
If I can speak honestly, I don’t think that this book would have worked half as well if it wasn’t for the characters. The plot has “emotional manipulation” stamped all over it.
This plot in the hands of a whiny, insipid heroine? It sounds like my worst nightmare.
But with Mia, Ms Forman completely took hold of the plot and harnessed it. Sure there were some parts that I was a bit unsure of and I wasn’t a huge fan of (The Grand Gesture bit, would that actually happen?!) but I could quite easily ignore those parts. I’m much more forgiving of a few bumps in the plot when the main character is good.
And Mia was simply stellar.
Also, I’ve just been ogling at her hair on my copy of Where She Went and I have some serious hair envy right now. So if we were to be friends, she’d have to get it lopped off.

Love Interest.

“I thought that getting to this part was the challenge. In books and movies, the stories always end when the two people finally have their romantic kiss. The happily-ever-after part is just assumed.”

So true. I’ve recently been looking for young adult books that feature the main character in a relationship. And when I say “in a relationship”, I don’t mean they’re in a relationship but the boyfriend is a douche/the girl is a bitch and wait, what’s that? A best friend who has loved them for all their life and they’re finally stepping up?!
I mean a true relationship.
I loved Adam. I loved that he wasn’t centre stage and he didn’t save Mia, well not completely anyway. I loved that they were different and they had their problems and their insecurities as a couple.
Obviously, I read this book knowing about the sequel so I’m not sure whether, if I’d read this book when it first came out, I would feel different. But I liked that this story wasn’t a love story, it was more about Mia and her decision and her thoughts as opposed to their thoughts.
Saying that, I’m really looking forward to Where She Went and getting to know Adam a bit better, even if he does have a lopsided grin.
Also, he cries at Jimmy Stewart films which means there’s a 100% chance he’s my soulmate.
Sorry, Mia.

Theme Tune.
MIA by Emmy the Great.

This song is too perfect and too sad.

Sadness Scale.
I was a bit nervous to read this book because I had heard how people had spent hours sobbing into their pillows because of it and alarm bells sounded.
It’s a very quiet book, low on the drama and the angst, and I loved that. Ms Forman could have so easily gone down the road where everything is amplified and shoved down your throat which always seems to happen when love and death get involved in a YA novel. But the emotions and the issues were subtle and they were interspersed with beautiful, bittersweet memories that often had me laughing out loud. (“Fuck Enya!” :D)
I didn’t cry or even get choked up, but this book definitely made me think.

Recommended For.
People who are looking for a book about life, death and love with brilliant characters, beautiful sentiments and not a single eye-roll in sight. Um… ok, maybe one eye roll . People who often wonder where all the great YA families are. People who would rather go and see a band named Adam and the Shooting Star than Shooting Star. People who get a bit panicky when a boy picks up a guitar near them just in case he feels the need to serenade you. People who want to go to a fancy dress party dressed as Blondie. People who think every day should start the day with chocolate chips pancakes. People who think that sobbing into your pillow for hours is character building

4 thoughts on “If I Stay – Gayle Forman

  1. Are you saying you'd make your friend cut her hair because you are jealous? Oh man, we better never meet because my hair is beautiful. Just kidding:) (sort of)

    I think I only cried in this one a bit because I listened to it on audiobook and they had cello music playing every once in a while and I loved it. You are right that it is a nice book but not overly emotionally manipulative. (though some people on GR disagree with us) I liked WSW almost as much and I read it in about 5 seconds.

    Adam is 10/10 angsty in book two, though;-)

  2. I totally agree with you, this book sounded like the worst kind of angsty emotional manipulation in theory, but it's such a lovely read thanks to Foreman's writing. Love Mia and Adam – I've been wanting to see more “relationship” rather than “falling in love” stories too. And Mia's family, ugh, I was gutted.

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