Publication: April 2nd, 2009
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
If I Stay was made for teenage girls. It’s a love story, full of heartbreak, and it has made it onto the list of books that have made me cry, even though I already knew the ending. And, let me tell you, that list is very short. It’s not that I’m emotionless or anything, books just have to really move me to bring on the waterworks. If I Stay did, but mostly near the ending.
What I liked most about If I Stay was not the romance, but the family and friend relationships and the little memories of people that impacted Mia’s life. It was those small things that made this book so beautiful and memorable, and so heartbreaking when the tragedy changed the course of Mia’s and her family’s lives forever. All of these little small, sad things were so powerful to me because Gayle Forman expertly transitions from past to present throughout her novel. We see the amazing life of Mia unfolding, and then come to the realization that what she had and who she was can never be the same after the car wreck.
I did enjoy the romance, however, mostly because of how realistic it was. Mia and Adam are two people who are on their own paths to greatness. Adam is becoming more famous for his local band that isn’t going to be so local soon. Mia is applying to Julliard and is ready to achieve her dreams of playing the cello there, hoping to be among the world’s best musicians. Their paths are heading away from each other, both of them trying to reach different goals and dreams in the music world, destiny saying that they are supposed to be apart. I liked that they were real with each other, knowing that life was taking them different places and that things between them might not work out forever. Sure, Mia’s a bit insecure and nervous about it, but she and Adam don’t blind themselves and get all mushy gushy and say stuff like “We’re going to be together forever, no matter what.” They’re realistic about their relationship, keeping Adam’s almost-celebrity status and Mia’s musical prodigy opportunities in mind as they decide whether to stay together.
But that’s when the car crash happens, when everything comes tumbling down, and all they’re left with is Mia’s strength and determination to hold on, to live. But her determination dims, and that’s what the main concept of If I Stay is: Will Mia stay and live, or will she join her family?
For me, that decision would be easy: I would live. I wouldn’t want to die when I was Mia’s age, just seventeen, because there would be so many other things I’d want to do with my life. I guess the fact that Mia considers not staying shows how traumatic everything is to her, though I wished that Gayle Forman had explained how Mia knows that she has a choice of staying and leaving, and why she is invisible, running around the hospital with no one knowing that she can see everything going on.
Summing up: This is a beautiful novel focusing on the importance of family, friends, and following your dreams. Mia’s story is memorable and her tragedy is heartbreaking. Her amazing moments with the people she loves will warm your heart.