Jul 21, 2011

Review: If I Stay

Image source: Goodreads
by Gayle Forman
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780142415436
  • Source: borrowed 
  • My Rating: 4.5/5

  • Goodreads Summary: In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces - to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.

I loved this novel. I really liked. It had me in tears more than once. Mia is a talented cellist who, as she's on the edge of death after a terrible car crash in which she lost her family, looks back at episodes of her life. Through these episodes we get to know her, her boyfriend, friends and family, her love for cello, her plans for the future. The main plotline is simple; Mia is in coma for 24 hours after the accident, watching her wrecked body, and she has to decide whether she wants to stay or not. If she stays, what kind of a world would she awake to, without her family? As she is reminiscing her life and gathering hints for her next step, it seems that at the same time it becomes easier and more difficult to leave. Is Mia strong enough to keep living? Wouldn't it be easier just to give up? Is what she has left enough to keep her here after her loss?

After opening with a bang, the novel slows down and the atmosphere becomes nostalgic, reminiscing, but not melancholic; slow but not mellow and boring. Rather, like tiptoeing through hospital corridors so as not to disturb a patient who has a tough choice to make.

I loved the writing and the voice, it's tenderness and silent compassion. Just before I finished reading, I read the review by Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit. One thing that Serena and I agreed on was that Forman doesn't "overwrite" the grief. There is no pretentiousness in the language, no attempts to sound deep and wise, and that's what made Mia's grief over her family more intimate--as it's supposed to be. Less telling, more showing, and the full impact is there. 

"And when he'd skin a knee or bump his head, if I was around he would not stop crying until I bestowed a magic kiss on the injury, after which he'd miraculously recover. I know that all the magic kisses in the world probably couldn't have helped him today. But I would do anything to have been able to give him one." 

In the face of death, Mia learns just what her life and all in it is worth. A great lesson for everyone, because, sadly, that's exactly how it happens. One moment you're having breakfast with your family, next moment they're gone. Another lesson, you got to ask yourself what are the things you live for and that make it a life worth living. And be able to see every smallest beautiful detail of your life.
I don't understand why they put on the cover that it would appeal to fans of Twilight. Different as chalk and cheese. I'd rather compare it to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, which I loved as well and which explores a similar topic.

A quick and easy read with a lesson, one that will stay with you for a while. Highly recommended.

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