Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman


“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 friends and family behind?

Then, one 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 that matters.


Astoundingly gripping, realistic, and heartfelt. If I Stay is incredibly unique in the basic plot- Mia has a choice- does she stay and live or die and pass on? That would be an insurmountable choice to face and Forman has pitched it beautifully, executing this one poignantly. Her fantastic idea was made even more memorable by Forman's phenomenal writing style. She easily pulls the reader into this one, putting them right alongside Mia as she watches her body, her family and friends, and thinks back on her life.

Setting this book further apart is Mia's family. Her parents march to their own beat but are, by no means, bad parents. She is close with them, is very willing to spend a snow day taking a joy ride with them and her brother, and a large part of the book shows how close knit this family of four was. There is little animosity between them and that very fact made the entire book even more gut wrenching. If Mia stays, she will be returning to a world without the parents she loves, adores, and needs. The parents that have always been there. She would still have her grandparents- grandparents who have several of their own beautiful scenes- but she is still faced with the choice.

Further compounding her decision is Mia's boyfriend, Adam. In the same way I loved learning about her family, I loved meeting and learning about Adam. Their relationship was explained in an amazing way and watching Adam's responses to learning his girlfriend has been in a terrible car accident and is now an orphan brought tears to my eyes. Adam's character, simply put, it as pragmatically well done as Mia's, enhanced again by Forman's ability to write raw emotion.

Mia's final choice was executed perfectly and the ending of this book was fantastic. Yes, this one brought tears to my eyes and left me feeling gutted- often times, I felt this book was outright eviscerating when everything was taken into consideration. The basic idea may seem simple but the execution is astounding. Forman certainly hit a home run with this one and I highly, highly recommend it. This one for the favorites shelf.

On another note, recently announced is the title of the sequel to this book: Where She Went, set to hit shelves in 2011. I can only imagine where things will go from there and with that title, rest assured- the ending of this book and Mia's choice is most definitely not betrayed. This one will be in Adam's POV which I definitely am loving the idea of. If I Stay could be stand alone but I am very relieved to know there will be more.

This one also will be hitting shelves in paperback April 6, which should give you even more incentive to get it soon!

Source: Checked out from the library
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1St Edition edition (April 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0525421033
ISBN-13: 978-0525421030

Author's Website

Book Website

What Others Are Saying:


  1. I haven't actually heard much about this book, though I loved your review of it. It will be hitting the list asap! :)

  2. Yay! I'm glad to see that you liked this, because I saw it at my library the other day. I'm going back for it soon :) Not many people check out books at my school, so I'll probably be able to grab a copy.

  3. I really need to get a copy of this! It sounds amazing. Wow gripping, realistic, and heartfelt? Sign me up!

    Great review :)

  4. I loved this book! And I agree with everything that you said. I'm not sure how I feel about a sequel, but hopefully it lives up to this one.

  5. What an amazing review, I will defnitely look out for this one, thank you.

  6. Great review. I agree, I felt gutted as well... her descriptions of some things were just so honest... such a powerful story.

    The author is coming to Houston next month for our TeenBookCon, so I'm excited about the chance to meet her! The sequel sounds great too!

  7. Wonderful review! This book has been on my
    wish list for a while now and I can't wait
    to get it. Now I want to read it
    even more hehe. Your review was truly
    wonderful =)

  8. Glad you liked it, I loved this book too :)

  9. I am glad you found this to be such a powerful book! I have it on my shelf, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

  10. I really liked this book (didn't really start reading YA until last year), so thanks for letting us know there is a sequel!

  11. I absolutely ADORE this book, and I enjoyed your review...I'm so happy to know that there'll be a sequel, and the fact that it's in Adam's POV just makes me that more excited, as Adam is one of my favorite book-boys of all time.

    As a side note, do you take recommendations?
    Because Jellicoe Road (titled On The Jellicoe Road in Australia) is a completely wonderful book that everyone needs to read XD
    It won the 2009 Michael L. Printz award, and I love to see you review it.