If I Stay
by Gayle Forman
Published: 13th May 2010
Publisher: Black Swan
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.
I found this book when I was looking for good YA recommendations on YouTube. I picked up a copy and was eager to find out why this was highly recommended. I was surprised that it was only 200 or so pages. I like reading short novels like this to see how they can grip me and tell an intriguing story within the short space of pages.
The book has an interesting concept and it reminds me somewhat of The Lovely Bones with the protagonist narrating her story from an ‘in-between’ world. The protagonist, Mia, is in an accident with her family and has a choice to make. Whilst she makes her decision, she relives moments and memories in her life. This intrigued me and it made me wonder what it’d be like to have to watch the reactions of those around me if I was in that situation.
The story takes places over 48 hours, with chapter titles that explain what time it is. I say ‘chapter titles’ loosely because there aren’t any ‘traditional’ chapters. It is just a continuation divided by memories and the reminder of the time. In some way this does add to the depth of the story, as it is reflects the characters journey but personally, I would have preferred defined chapters as I found it difficult to read in this particular this way. The book jumped back and forth between the present and Mia’s memories. This slowed the pace down too much for my liking and I’m sad to say it put me in a bit of a reading slump, because I wasn’t excited to pick it back up and finish it, despite it only being 200 pages long.
Honestly, I didn’t really feel as strongly for Mia as I imagined I would. I couldn’t identify with her. A large theme in this book is music, specifically, classical music. The character has a passion for playing the cello, and I didn’t understand all the musical references. There were times when I felt exasperated with her. Half the time I felt she was more concerned with her boyfriend than with her family. I didn’t find all of the characters believable and I couldn’t see this wholesome family that the book presents. Especially the parents, they didn’t seem realistic to in my eyes. In a way, they felt forced and undefined.
I know I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I’d hoped, it doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy it. I’ve heard this is a popular book, which is evident as it’s recently been adapted into a film.
If you’d like to get yourself a copy: Amazon Link