Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If I Stay by Gayle Forman


Published: January 1, 2009 by Speak
Received: bought from Barnes & Noble
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. {taken from goodreads.com}



I bought this book several months ago & kept meaning to read it, but for whatever reason it remained on my shelf.  On the verge of it's sequel, Where She Went, about to be released there's been a lot of talk about this book.  I figured now was a good time to finally pick it up & read it.  It's hard for me to do so when a book gets SO much hype though.  I almost don't want to.  I tend to enjoy a book more when I know nothing about it & can form my own thoughts & opinions with out be swayed by others.  This book lived up to it's hype, in my opinion.  Gayle Forman has written a novel with such depth & emotion that it leaves the reader in awe.  There is no way someone can read this & not feel something for it's words.

The story takes place in a small town just outside of Portland, Oregon.  It's winter & a fresh coat of snow & ice has just coated the town.  Seventeen year old Mia, her parents, & her younger brother Teddy are forced to take a "snow day" & stay home from school & work.  Since the weather does not appear to be that bad outside, & signs of the ice melting begin to reveal itself; the family decides to pack up the car & take a family road trip to visit friends & family members.  Through Mia's point of view we begin to understand the dynamic of her small, close-knit family.  She isn't your typical teenager by any means.  She actually enjoys spending time with her parents & younger brother Teddy.  She is also a very disciplined cellist who has dreams of attending Julliard some day.  Mia's parents are her biggest supporters, being two adults who built their family on music.  The four of them together are the type of family every one admires & respects.  They are honest & real.  But more than anything, they show their love for one another with out any hesitations or fears.

Another strong relationship we learn about in Mia's life is that of her boyfriend Adam.  The two of them met in high school & again, it was music that brought them together.  Adam is the type of boyfriend that every girl wishes for.  He is deep & caring, and thinks with his heart before his teenage hormones.  Both Mia & Adam together are the epitome of young love.  However, their relationship faces challenges ahead.  The prospect of Mia going to school in NYC at Julliard & Adam staying behind in Oregon to continue the successes of his up & coming band, Shooting Star weigh a bit too heavily on this young couple.

As Mia & her family make their trek down the icy roads to visit friends & family, the unthinkable happens.  Their car collides with another & throws both her parents, herself, & Teddy out the windows.  The vehicle is left in shambles & the only sound heard within miles besides the piercing crunch of metal is that of classical music still making it's way through the unbroken car speakers.  But it's Mia who is standing along the road side, taking in the gruesome scene before her.  Is that the lifeless body of her parents that she sees? & where is Teddy??  Then Mia spots her charm bracelet peaking out over the ditch, still attached to her body.  How is this even possible?!  The sirens sound & help is on it's way.  In a whirlwind of catastrophic events, Mia is witnessing the paramedics do their jobs as diligently as possible.  The reality of what has happened hasn't quit set in yet for Mia.  Shock is all she seems to comprehend.

In the hours to follow Mia is being put to the ultimate test.  She follows her body to the hospital where she must witness the gruesome task of what it means to literally bring the dead back to life.  The idea of having to see such a thing really took the breath out of me.  Soon Mia's grandparents, other family members, friends, & even Adam show up at the hospital.  She again is put through torture having to witness their pleas & wants for Mia to stay alive.  It is the tears of her grandfather that broke my heart the most.  A man so soft spoken & of very few words brought so much humility to such a grave scene.  His words of telling Mia she can let go & move on if that is what she chooses to do hit really close to home for me.  Unfortunately, I have been in his place & have had those exact same words as I witnessed someone on the verge of dying.  It's a moment that changes someone forever.

It is Adam who ultimately stole my heart.  His words & his presence alone channels through Mia and makes her realize that she has a choice.  Live & face the nightmare that has now become her life, or die & let go of this awful pain - leaving so many loved ones behind.  It makes you wonder, when someone is on their death bed do they too have this choice??  The ending came very abrupt for me.  For the last few pages my heart was beating twice as fast & I must have been holding my breath.  When I read that last paragraph, I literally sat the book down & said, "wow".  This story will forever change me.  Gayle Forman has written something so profound & touching, that I was able to really connect with these characters.  Grab the tissues because you will be shedding a few tears!  It's a story about love & loss and what it means when you're given the choice to live or die.  This book definitely puts things in to perspective.  I know it did for me.





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19 comments:

  1. YES YES YES!! I LOVEEEED this one..if you already didn't know by my review/how much I talk about it/how I'm freaking out right now.

    Adam really did it for me too! I was so distraught thinking about his pain as well and thinking about myself in that position.

    SOOO happy you loved this one!

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  2. I won Where She Went in a giveaway from Khy and need to pick this one up. Can't wait to read it.

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  3. Great review! I loved it!!! Super excited for the next book!

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  4. I have the same reluctance toward hyped books too. This sounds a little bit too Lovely Bones for my tastes. Is there any similarity beyond the general concept?

    Sara
    http://smreine.com/

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  5. What an incredible review! I have this book too, but have yet to read it. I guess I didn't really realize quite what it was about until I read this. I will have to pick it up soon!

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  6. I have this one on my shelf I need to read it soon. Great review Ginger!

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  7. I have this one on my TBR...this sounds different from The Lovely Bones since the character has a choice of whether to stay or go?

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  8. Agggh! I'm sooo glad you read and and loved it. This is one of my favorite books and Where she Went is from Adam's pov so I'm pretty sure you'll love that one even more. =D Wonderful review Ginger!

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  9. If I Stay is a book I'll never forget reading. I cried through the whole entire thing! The things people said to Mia or she overheard where very deep and emotional and made me cry even more! Great review!

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  10. Glad you liked it so much! I just bought this before my Lent book ban, so I hope it lives up to all the praise it's getting.

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  11. I cried SO hard with the grandfather. Oh goodness. This book really moved me. I think you will really enjoy Where She Went! Adam is amazing, and that book is just, the perfect follow up to this one. The only follow up that could possibly have come after. So glad you liked it!!

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  12. I read it in French, and also "Where she went". These are two of my favorite books this year !

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  13. Great review! must read, glad you liked it.

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  14. You're going to love WHERE SHE WENT. <3

    This is one of my favorite books. Gayle Forman is amazing.

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  15. Amazing review!! I have to read this book now!

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  16. I am reading this book next since I just got a copy of Where She Went. I also bought this back in the summer and it just sat on my bookshelf for no reason. It sounds like it's going to be very intense and emotional so I am mentally preparing myself. Lovely review :)

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  17. I love this book. One of my best reads this year. You can check my review here: http://blackplume.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/if-i-stay/Thanks!

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  18. If I Stay is a bittersweet memory of a family and their loved ones. It's told through the eyes of Mia, who watches herself being treated in the hospital as her loved ones surround her. And she has to make the toughest choice of all...
    I really love the way the story was told, while Mia is watching over her own body in the hospital she is reminded of memories of her family and friends and through that we got to know them better. It was beautiful how the story of her life unfolds. I absolutely adored her family and friends, everyone was their own character with specific traits and quirks, and what a loving family as well! That made me that much more emotionally invested in the story, they seemed so real.

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