Review–If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay
by Gayle Forman

Summary: 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 family and friends 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 one that matters.
If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.

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The problem with book blogging and being a part of the book community is that book excitement is contagious. Sometimes, you end up hearing about and reading books you love that you might not have heard of otherwise, which is the best side effect. But other times, you end up breaking down and buying a book you aren’t sure about because so many others are raving about it. Which is how I ended up with If I Stay.

If I’m honest, If I Stay has a synopsis that sounds like something I’d never ever read on a normal basis. I hate sappy books about death, dying, in between-ness, near death experiences, and that whole power of souls and love to physically bring someone back from the brink of death kind of thing. I love romance and books that deal with the truth and beauty of love or books that deal with those tough issues in a unique way, but as a whole, sappy books just aren’t my thing. There are exceptions to my rule, but those books tend to take a normal sappy subject and revolutionize it in the writing or plot in order for me to love it.

I read this synopsis and expected the protagonist would lose her family and be stuck in some in between type of thing and have to decide to stay or die. I wasn’t sure if her parents would be in the novel as ghosts trying to get to her to come with them or if the novel would explore her waking up and whether her experiences were real or what the details would be, but none of those things sound interesting to me.

I have a few issues with the premise because I don’t think it’s at all probable, so it was impossible for me to relate. I don’t subscribe to any of those otherworldly beliefs that a lot of novels in this subject seem to appeal to, so I knew If I Stay would have to do something unique and unexpected for me to like it. Mia’s entire dilemma, if she should stay, was not something I was able to even help with, mildly relate to, or sympathize with. What would I do in Mia’s situation? I can’t even answer that because I don’t believe there IS such an in between that would leave me with the opportunity to make choices. I would either live or die as a result of what injuries I sustained. Love can be powerful, but this is not the type of situation in which I believe it manifests.

If I Stay was exactly what I expected, which meant I didn’t enjoy it very much. And that’s totally and completely my fault and has more to do with me than the actual book itself. It’s my fault for reading a book I knew wasn’t my thing and just crossing my fingers hoping that it would transcend its own synopsis.

It was well written, interesting, and I’m sure it is moving if the premise if your thing. My only real criticism that is fair is that it doesn’t do anything unexpected. Mia is in between and views herself in the ICU and decides if she will stay or go. Nothing more, nothing less. You get an insight to what her life was like, what fears she has, and what her family is like. And she makes a decision. You definitely get what you came for, but I thought it was disappointing that it didn’t bring anything else to the table.

I also disliked the characters to some degree. I didn’t enjoy the punk rock boy vs the classical girl scenario with Mia and Adam. I hated that the parents were former rocker people who fell into marriage and kids and ended up being totally awesome parents who were oh so cool. Not only was that unbelievable to me, but it made it difficult for me to relate to, even with me having relatively cool parents and a much younger brother. I think, despite disliking the basic premise, my overall dislike of the characters and their “scene” made it even less enjoyable to read.

I recommend If I Stay to people who enjoy novels that are designed to be tear jerkers about death, loss, dying, and that sort of thing. People who believe in the power of love to heal or bring people back from the edge, or things of that nature might also love the premise. Mia, her boyfriend, and her family were all extremely musical people. I think people who play instruments or are particularly influenced by and feel a deep connection to music might also enjoy the novel. If it sounds like something you’d enjoy if you read the synopsis, you’ll probably love it. If the synopsis doesn’t quite sway you, I recommend leaving it alone.



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