If I Stay

If I Stay

Librarian note: an alternate cover for this edition can be found here.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 frie...

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Title:If I Stay
Author:Gayle Forman
Rating:
ISBN:0525421033
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:201 pages

If I Stay Reviews

  • Heather
    Jun 26, 2009

    There are two kinds of books, those that you finish reading and leave you with fleeting memories of the attractive hero, the silly heroine, and the overall storyline, or perhaps all you noted was the glaring plot holes, inconsistencies, ridiculousness or flat characters. At any rate, it’s a book that you read, either like or dislike, but no sooner than you have turned the last page, it is out of sight and out of mind. Then there is the other kind of book that will touch your heart, or awaken a l

    There are two kinds of books, those that you finish reading and leave you with fleeting memories of the attractive hero, the silly heroine, and the overall storyline, or perhaps all you noted was the glaring plot holes, inconsistencies, ridiculousness or flat characters. At any rate, it’s a book that you read, either like or dislike, but no sooner than you have turned the last page, it is out of sight and out of mind. Then there is the other kind of book that will touch your heart, or awaken a lingering memory or a potential fear that will haunt your mind so that even long after you’ve fallen asleep, your unconscious self is still wading through the details. Your dreams will be fitful and when you finally awaken, you will find yourself tangled up in sheets with puffy, swollen eyes from tears that you shed when you weren’t even aware enough to know you were crying. If I Stay is the latter.

    Mia is eighteen and has the kind of family any of us would pray to be born to and the kind of boyfriend that can only exist in the fictitious world. Furthermore, she is a gifted musician and is about to be accepted into the prestigious Julliard. Mia has a choice, she can follow her love of music, go to Julliard and accomplish her cellist dreams, or she can stay with her family and the love of her life and follow her heart. Either way, she has something to gain and something to lose. Then, one fateful morning, Mia’s world is turned on its head and life as she knows it changes. The one thing that remains the same is the question that Mia has asked herself for the past few months, should I go or should I stay?

    In art, the brightest colors appear beside the darkest of lines and in this book, the most endearing, tender and happy moments are surrounded by grief so palpable, that you will laugh through your tears and sob with a smile. If I Stay demonstrates the kind of beauty that can only exist alongside despair and shines all the more for it. It is filled with happiness and sorrow, laughter and tears, birth and death, love and loss. By writing a book filled with parallels, Forman proves that life has no opposite and thus leaves readers with an overwhelming since of joy and hope despite tears and grief that they are bound to feel.

    **Update** I just re-read this book for the forth time and it continues to devastate and delight me.

  • Kat Kennedy
    Jul 20, 2010

    I played the violin for five years and the viola for three. It is the piano that only lasted for one year. My older brother and I began our lessons together when I was nine.

    My brother was a smart kid, but he didn't know it then. It didn't help that his little sister was extremely competitive, precocious and bratty. I think he always believed he didn't have much going for him - but boy he has it where it counts.

    Back then I thought I was so much smarter than him, and taking up the piano was anoth

    I played the violin for five years and the viola for three. It is the piano that only lasted for one year. My older brother and I began our lessons together when I was nine.

    My brother was a smart kid, but he didn't know it then. It didn't help that his little sister was extremely competitive, precocious and bratty. I think he always believed he didn't have much going for him - but boy he has it where it counts.

    Back then I thought I was so much smarter than him, and taking up the piano was another chance for me to prove that. Unlike my brother, who had never played an instrument before, I could sight-play and was already studied in the necessary music theory aspects from the violin.

    And, in form, I

    better than him. For a while. Effectively speaking, I always was always going to be better at him in the technical arena. But he was better where it counted. When it came to the heart of the music, bringing a piece alive and making it beautiful - I was completely outclassed. I played like a robot and he played with his soul.

    This book makes me regret that more now than I've ever regretted it before in my life.

    If I Stay is a beautifully written, character-driven novel about a girl choosing between life and death. It was also one of the best narrated audiobooks I have ever listened to.

    Mia's body is in ICU and she is waiting to die. As the events from her car crash unfold, she examines her relationships with everyone to determine whether or not it's worth staying or dying peacefully from her crash.

    There were parts of this novel that had me weeping, my heart aching and my chest pounding with emotion. Mia's voice, her relationships, her struggles and her pain are so brilliantly related to the audience.

    The writing isn't perfect. There are some parts that could have been a little more polished. Some paragraphs that probably needed another edit. However, the technical writing aspects are far and above overcompensated by the heart and soul of this novel.

    This novel is like Mia's Cello. It is beautiful, resounding and emotional. Just as Mia can play Adam like her instrument, so too can Forman play her audience - strumming all the high and low notes with perfect, breathtaking clarity. Without a doubt, Forman has it where it counts.

  • Flannery
    Aug 12, 2010

    Books about death and dying are particularly hard to review. The way we react to them is so deeply personal that I'm skeptical about the actual value of my (or anyone's) review of the work to other readers. When we read, we don't come to the book with a clean slate--we come to it with years of experiences, friendships, and memories that provide us with a vantage point from which to view the story. And if you have an awful tendency toward existentialism, like I do, these books only become more em

    Books about death and dying are particularly hard to review. The way we react to them is so deeply personal that I'm skeptical about the actual value of my (or anyone's) review of the work to other readers. When we read, we don't come to the book with a clean slate--we come to it with years of experiences, friendships, and memories that provide us with a vantage point from which to view the story. And if you have an awful tendency toward existentialism, like I do, these books only become more emotional as you evaluate your own life,choices, and relationships along with the protagonist.

    I spent two years of my life moving around the US doing service projects, and most of that time I lived in the gulf after Hurricane Katrina. Living in a tent city and gutting houses for months in what basically felt like a post-apocalyptic world was life-changing for me, but the absolute devastation of the area wasn't what did me in, it was the people. Most of the people whose homes we gutted had not returned from evacuation yet. Their homes had been under 10-12 feet of water for two weeks. My point is this: we threw out almost all of their belongings. Barely anything was salvageable--at the most, we found a few pictures or some of their silver or china. I cannot imagine what it was like for those families. Is it better to come back to a nightmare or to come back to an empty, clean slate from which to start again? I still don't know. But I realized, after speaking to so many residents, that most of their stuff didn't matter to them. They had their lives. Their family. Their connections to other people. I know it sounds cliche, but I feel like it is something that a lot of us tend to forget. Even when it feels like all is lost, there is

    something there to hold on to.

    Mia, the protagonist of

    is in the intensive care unit after a horrible car accident. While she is in a comatose state, some part of her (her soul?) is able to see everything that is going on outside of her body. I found it fascinating--so often with an outside watcher, we see a person hovering over their funeral or watching to see what happens afterward. In Mia's case, we were able to follow along with her while she makes her decision to stay or go. I wasn't sure what Mia's choice was going to be, even to the last second, and I appreciated that fact--

    gets it. The relationships between the characters felt so real to me, especially because a lot of my immediately family are doctors and nurses so I've spent a lot of time in hospitals.

    I read an article today about the decline of the "book review." The author was discussing the extent to which people used to depend on critical and objective book reviews for suggestions of what to read and how the number of literary critics has severely decreased. (actual literary critics, not just reviewers)It got me thinking about what I actually look for in a book review. What makes me want to read it? Though I definitely enjoy the NYT Book Review, I am much more likely to buy a book that my friends recommend, on Goodreads or in real life. Give me a subjective book review about what a book made you

    and I am all over it. If you are the same way, you should know: This book made me feel optimistic for the future at a time when I have been feeling completely lost, so for that, it is getting 5 stars.

    As an aside, I'd just like to add that this book was fantastic in audio format. Once in awhile, cello music played in the background and it was lovely to hear it considering Mia was an amazing cellist. Also, having a person actually read me the lyrics to Mia's father's song and to hear Adam say his speech to her was beautiful. I'd definitely recommend this book in audio format.

  • Jess
    Dec 10, 2010

    This book could have been great, but it was almost embarrassing to read at times. I know that sounds pretty mean, but c'mon.

    I can appreciate any novel that mentions Kathleen Hannah and Courtney Love in positive context (it also earns points for being set near Portland!), but I can't respect a novel that is full of cliches, unrealistic characters, and CHEESE. I almost had to stop reading when one character "played the other character's body like a guitar", and I actually did stop reading for awhi

    This book could have been great, but it was almost embarrassing to read at times. I know that sounds pretty mean, but c'mon.

    I can appreciate any novel that mentions Kathleen Hannah and Courtney Love in positive context (it also earns points for being set near Portland!), but I can't respect a novel that is full of cliches, unrealistic characters, and CHEESE. I almost had to stop reading when one character "played the other character's body like a guitar", and I actually did stop reading for awhile when the girl brought out her damn cello bow and started running it along her boyfriend's body. Seriously? Would this ever really happen? I know this is fantasy, but the author doesn't write it like it is supposed to be a dream.

    The parents were the worst part of the book for me. They were the parents absolutely every teenager in the Western world wishes that they had- cool, young, know music, laidback, had wild young adulthoods, act like teenagers, and are just so damn awesome it hurts. There really is no happy medium in teen fiction- parents are either antagonists or sidekicks these days.

    The premise was a great one- being able to choose between life or death. And it could've been awesome. But this book was sadly not awesome, it was poorly written and cheesy.

  • Emory Russo
    Dec 23, 2010

    My impression? It was good. Not fantastic, but okay. Decent. Tolerable. But I'm a bit irritated with this book right now, because it is one of those books that has been ridiculously overrated. Yeah, it was sad. But not 'devastating'. Not 'heart-wrenching'.This book was fine, but I honestly think that if I had read the first chapter and then read the last chapter I wouldn't have missed much. Yes, her parents were both beautiful people who will be missed. And I have to admit the whole story of he

    My impression? It was good. Not fantastic, but okay. Decent. Tolerable. But I'm a bit irritated with this book right now, because it is one of those books that has been ridiculously overrated. Yeah, it was sad. But not 'devastating'. Not 'heart-wrenching'.This book was fine, but I honestly think that if I had read the first chapter and then read the last chapter I wouldn't have missed much. Yes, her parents were both beautiful people who will be missed. And I have to admit the whole story of he brother's life and death tugged at my heartstrings. But at the end of the book, I found myself feeling more bored than anything. This book wasn't new, or original, or groundbreaking. It was a way for me to kill time while I waited for my Mom to pick me up from school. I've seen stuff like this novel a million times before, and most of them were a lot more sad. Sorry Forman, but I'm not impressed.

    Guys, I wrote this review in 2010. Do you seriously feel the need to continue commenting on this, when I've been messaged by die-hard fans and fellow haters alike, had to answer every possible argument for or against it, and been criticized for ~daring~ to write a less-than-glowing review on a website whose

    is to review, critique, gush about, and condemn books? Are you honestly that rilled up by a negative opinion?

    If I Stay just isn't that great. My tastes have changed quite a bit since I read it, and I stand by my opinion. Why do you care? Why are you still whining about it when a simple read-through of the comments will show that I've already addressed your specific complaint? Go away. Write your own glowing review. Watch the movie version coming up (which also looks terrible, but what do I know). Go. Leave. I don't care. I do not care.

  • Emily May
    Mar 02, 2011

    Despite the general hype about this book, I had my reservations because I had gone into

    with similar optimism and been highly disappointed by a story that never really took off and was simply drab and boring. After reading the goodreads description for this, I imagined something of the same and could only hope I wouldn't have a repeat performance.

    To be honest, if you're looking for fast-paced adventure and a really gripping plot then I'm not sure this book is for you. Gayle For

    Despite the general hype about this book, I had my reservations because I had gone into

    with similar optimism and been highly disappointed by a story that never really took off and was simply drab and boring. After reading the goodreads description for this, I imagined something of the same and could only hope I wouldn't have a repeat performance.

    To be honest, if you're looking for fast-paced adventure and a really gripping plot then I'm not sure this book is for you. Gayle Forman uses subtleties and beautiful writing to tell her story in a deeply emotional and moving way. She creates wonderful moments from the most simplistic things as playing cello or going to a concert or the protagonist spending time with her grandfather. Where

    was a book about death, 'If I Stay' is very much a book about life and how the small things we overlook are so important. Forman creates the sense that life is always worth living, even when it seems that your whole world is falling apart - if you have nothing else, you still have a friend who'd risk their life for you. Still think your life isn't worth living when someone would disagree to such an extent?

    The many different relationships in the book are told in varied but equally moving ways. The author shows the intricate relationship between mother and daughter, father and daughter, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, boyfriend and girlfriend, and just that of a person's closest friend. Mia, a shy cello-player from Oregon with only one close friend, is shown in this book to have a life full of love and things to be grateful for. I found it truly inspiring and heartwarming. I will be reading the sequel, without a doubt.

  • Watermelon Daisy
    May 21, 2011

    In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

    A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

    - - -

    WHY I DROPPED IT:

    I didn't like the book. I just thought it was compl

    In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

    A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make -and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

    - - -

    WHY I DROPPED IT:

    I didn't like the book. I just thought it was completely useless. Nothing was really "sad" except times where Mia had to choose between staying/going, etc. And the plot didn't hold my attention -mainly because there wasn't much of a plot in first place.

    I was a little reluctant to admit I didn't like it in first place. Mainly because so many people loved it, I felt as if I was bursting their bubble. But as time moves forward, a lot of people didn't like it either. So I'm not alone.

    But before you completely screech at me for not liking such a "brilliant" book, I have my reasons.

    - Mia is too dull for my liking. Sure, she likes music and it's supposed to "set her apart" from the rest of the world. Nuh-ah. It doesn't work like that. She's as ordinary/simple as possible.

    - There isn't much of a plot. Just a girl wondering if she'd rather die or stay. Maybe for a lot of you, it's a wonderful plot. Not for me. Sorry, but recounting isn't my thing.

    - Which brings me to the third point. This story is the wrong story which is being written. As a writer, I worship the rule, "If you have to add a lot of back-story to make your book understandable, then you're telling the wrong story." I agree.

    This book is just memories stringed together. Maybe I'm the only one who has a problem with this, if so, forgive me. But I really, really didn't like this.

    Oh and as for Adam, I didn't like him much either. He seemed the usual "dark" type. And one of the things I really hate in romance, is when I can't see why the boy and the girl fall for each other. I do understand they both have the passion for music, but so many other people do.

    *rant over*

    Comment all you like. My mind's not going to change. Sorry.

  • Rainbow
    Jul 08, 2012

    UGHHHHHH.

    This book is wrenching!

    But lovely. With an interesting and unusual narrative. There's a lot of teen romance here, but it was the family dynamic that really did me in. (In a good way.)

  • Summer
    Nov 20, 2012

    I was actually quite shocked to find that

    Weird, huh?

    Despite what you’re probably thinking, I did not base this review on whether or not I would cry. I gave it two stars because it

    Other than the fact that I was bored to tears, I had several major

    I was actually quite shocked to find that

    Weird, huh?

    Despite what you’re probably thinking, I did not base this review on whether or not I would cry. I gave it two stars because it

    Other than the fact that I was bored to tears, I had several major issues with

    .

    For one, I failed to empathize with a vast majority of the characters. The connection just wasn't there, slightly contributing to my disliking of this book. Identifying with characters is extremely important for me as a reader,

    with these types of books. I did not appreciate Mia’s emotionless voice -which I know was deliberate on the author’s part- because it did not fit this sort of story.

    The characters in this book were much too perfect. It was palpable from that first

    scene from the beginning of the book, when the family was all together. It was like those perfect, unrealistic American families you see on T.V. It was pretty painful to read about. If you want to know anything about me, I

    perfect things. Perfection is boring as hell.

    Quite often, I found the story to be a bit… messy. It constantly jumped from one thing to another, much to my irritation. To sum the book up,

    was just a jumbled mess of memories, lacking one necessary ingredient: cohesiveness.

    I like to compare the plot of this novel to a lost dog. It wanders aimlessly, endlessly, not really going anywhere. More times than I would like to admit, I contemplated giving up the book altogether. I kept questioning why I wanted to continue with this endeavor.

    One might argue that that was the author’s intent; to show this feeling of aimlessness to symbolize how Mia was feeling. While this is a good idea in theory, all it really does is bore the reader and make them question why they are reading this book.

    But probably what bothered me the most was the very unsatisfying ending. Whilst reading this, I had inferred that maybe, just maybe, all this suck will cease because the author would write such a brilliant, beautiful, life-changing conclusion that would make me give this book 5 stars without a second thought. That I would be blown off my feet by the brilliance of the ending.

    Needless to say, my inferring was smashed by how incorrect it was.

    The one redeeming factor of this book that stopped me from giving it one star was Mia’s passion for music. You’d be hard-pressed to find a main character as passionate as her, which is one quality of her’s I admired greatly.

    Maybe I expected the wrong things from this book. Maybe I’m reading into this all wrong, and missing the message by a mile. I’m sorry, I just didn't like the book. Besides failing to move me in any way, it failed to keep my attention, and for that, I simply cannot give this book any higher than 2 stars.

    For the record, I don't exactly

    this book, but I think it was very undeserving of the hype and that it was merely descent. Not anything special.

  • Lola  Reviewer
    Apr 16, 2016

    I'm not.

    I'm not

    Why would I be?

    is only one of the most endearing stories I've ever read...

    No reason to sob quitely while writing a review... ღ

    ❤ ❤ ❤

    You probably all know what happens. A car accident. A car accident that took Mia, her brother and her parents' lives away. Only... Mia stayed as a ghost, a lifeless body. She's hurt. She's weak. She doesn't want to leave everyone she cares

    I'm not.

    I'm not

    Why would I be?

    is only one of the most endearing stories I've ever read...

    No reason to sob quitely while writing a review... ღ

    ❤ ❤ ❤

    You probably all know what happens. A car accident. A car accident that took Mia, her brother and her parents' lives away. Only... Mia stayed as a ghost, a lifeless body. She's hurt. She's weak. She doesn't want to leave everyone she cares about, but how much easier it'd be for her to just... let go.

    This book is beyond beautiful. It's heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. You'll laugh, you'll smile but you will cry or drop a tear now and then. Tears because you won't be able to believe your eyes at how poignant this is. And how it is a story you'll cherish forever. In my heart,

    will always have a special place.

    It makes you wish you'd played the cello as our Mia exquisitely does. That's at least true for me, and that is how much these characters and story had an influence on me. What I know for sure is that, after reading this book, you'll take a moment to think everything through. To think about your life and how it isn't easy but that, when you're surrounded by people you love, it's, somehow, easier to cross over all those obstacles life puts you through.

    Mia sure is constantly sharing wonderful memories with us, but what is so impressive is that the author subtly included a message in each of them. A message to think about. This is the kind of book I wished everyone with a soul would read and see its irrevocably originality and very pleasant and peaceful atmosphere.

    What I unfortunately didn't like as much as I hoped to is the author's writing style. I read raving reviews saying how amazing the writing is but, I didn't quite see its amazingness as most people have I guess. It is well-written, of course, with a perfect atmosphere fitting the story and all the emotions of the characters, but so are many many other books I've read. Nothing special on that part for me, sadly. That is the reason I couldn't give this book five stars, but it is the one and only.

    Everything else was perfect.

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