Monday, March 2, 2015

Review: If I Stay – Gayle Forman

If I Stay – Gayle Forman

On a day that started like any other, Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. In an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she'll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving. 

Review: It took me days to write this review because I have such mixed feelings about this book. After much deleting and rewriting, I've decided that I did like If I Stay, but it wasn't what I expected.

Seventeen-year-old Mia is involved in a car accident that kills her family and leaves her in a coma. While in the coma, Mia can see and hear everything that happens around her, but she can't interact with anyone. She has to decide if she wants to live or join her family in whatever comes after death.

There is so much hype surrounding this novel. I know that hype isn't a book's fault, but I've heard so many good things about it that I think my expectations were a little high. While I was reading, I kept waiting to see the greatness that everybody else saw. When the book ended, my reaction was, "Wait, that's it? There's nothing else?" I was kind of disappointed.

Even though my expectations weren't met, there is a lot to love about If I Stay. The writing is brilliant at times, especially toward the end. I also really like the nonlinear structure because it's not something that's done a lot in young adult books. I love it when authors do something that's a little outside the box.

This novel wasn't as depressing or melodramatic as I expected. I actually procrastinated picking up If I Stay for a long time because the synopsis sounded cheesy. However, the book doesn't cross into melodrama too often, and the flashbacks help lighten the mood. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

My biggest criticism is the characters. I couldn't connect with any of them. They lack depth, and they're all so unrealistically nice. Mia's family is so perfect, and so happy, and so loving. I just didn't buy it. It also makes a lot of the flashbacks feel repetitive because most of them are about a happy family being happy. I wanted to see some realistic conflict. Did Mia ever argue with her parents? Did she ever get annoyed by her little brother? Seeing more of the less-than-wonderful moments would have made the characters feel more realistic to me.

There is a lot to like about If I Stay, and I do understand why people love it, but I was slightly underwhelmed. I'm still deciding if I want to read the sequel.


  1. I have this book on my bookshelf for so long. And the reason is the same as you mentioned-there is so much hype around this book!! The premise of the book doesn't captivate me and I felt it might be a depressing read. But, good to know from your post that its not so.
    Might pick it up soon :)

    1. It’s a book about death, so it is sad, but it’s not nearly as sad as I thought it would be. I was happy about that.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!