If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Goodreads: If I Stay
Series: If I Stay #1

Summary: After a bad car accident, Mia wakes up to find her body in a coma, but her consciousness outside.  For a day, she watches doctors, friends, and family fight for her life, but ultimately realizes that she is the one who makes the real choice whether she stays.


Things that Surprised Me about This Book

The length.  The author interview, book discussion guide, and preview of the sequel Where She Went could have fooled me.  This book is really closer in length to a novella than a novel and can be read within a couple hours.

The romance. It is other bloggers’ reviews that tricked me here. There were definitely some very romantic gestures and really cute dialogue, but the fact remains that this book is not a romance.  The blurb on the jacket did not help to clarify this point, as it only vaguely states that Mia must make some sort of choice.

Things that I Liked

The characters. The characters are really unique, ranging from Mia herself, who is an Oregon girl with dreams of playing the cello at Julliard to her rocker family and friends. Adam, her boyfriend, is just as sweet as readers tend to suggest (he just is not the focus). The interactions between the characters are equally wonderful, as they manage to celebrate their differences and create a beautiful dynamic.

The concept. If I Stay is definitely on the sadder side, despite its happy and even wild moments, but it is also very thought-provoking.  It poses a lot of questions about what it means to belong, to follow one’s dreams, to keep fighting.  It explores what people and things make life worth living.  And tackles whether teens can love deeply and in high school, and what obstacles they face if they do.

Things I Did Not Like

The hospital.  Mia was injured in the car accident—badly.  The descriptions of her lacerated body and the methods the doctors and nurses used to keep her alive might be realistic, but they will also make readers a bit on the squeamish side squirm.  Understandably, Mia’s flashbacks tend to be the most fun part of the story, and not these scenes.

The ending. Readers might feel a bit cheated by the conclusion. It is admittedly artistic, and there is a way it is just right for the book to end there, if one takes into account the structure and main purpose of the story, but it also just…stops.  Fortunately the sequel is out now, so the tale can continue, but I am uncertain whether even Where She Went has the scenes I want in it, or whether it just picks up after a few years’ jump.

Published: 2009

4 thoughts on “If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  1. Alexandra says:

    The characters are what made it for me too. I loved the way that we got to know Mia’s parents and little brother through her flashbacks so that we actually care about what happened to them. Where She Went does skip a few years – so I don’t know if you’ll get your scenes, but you will get resolution in the end. 🙂


    • Briana says:

      I’m looking forward to reading it mainly because I have this idea she’ll be an even more dynamic character when she’s actually awake. I’m not sure how legitimate that is! And the flashbacks did work really well. Sometimes they annoy me because I want the “real” story back.


  2. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase says:

    I’ve got both of the books sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. I’ve heard really great things about both of them, and a lot of people I know really liked Where She Went even more than If I Stay. So for what that’s worth…

    Great review! I’m really intrigued to read this series and I definitely want to pick it up off my shelf now!


    • Briana says:

      My theory is that there should be some more dynamic interactions when Mia is awake, so it would make sense that it’s even better! I also like that she’s is in college in the second book. That seems to be a generally overlooked time of life in literature for some reason.


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