If I Stay

April 17, 2009

if-i-stay1This new young-adult novel by Gayle Forman has only been out for a few weeks, but already it has quite a bit of buzz – an interesting and serious plot, its own website complete with book trailer, and a movie deal (with Twilight‘s Catherine Hardwicke slated to direct).  From these alone, it’s on the fast-track to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

Seventeen-year-old Mia has a great life with her cool (no, really) parents, adorable younger brother, and fantastic boyfriend.  She’s a classically trained cellist, whose most difficult decision at the beginning of the book is whether to leave behind her family, friends, and boyfriend to go to Julliard in the fall.  However, tragedy strikes during a family car ride, and Mia discovers her family has been killed and she is in serious condition.  Now she must decide whether to let go and be with her parents and brother as a family or stay with her friends and boyfriend and live with unbearable loss for the rest of her life.

I did not love this book from the start, but as I got further into it and after I finished, I discovered I liked it better than I thought I would. If I Stay is extremely sad.  More than once I had to put it down because it was too depressing.  The book uses flashbacks juxtiposed with Mia’s out-of-body experience so that readers get a sense of what her life is like.  Her family seems a little too perfect since they get along all the time, but this is probably just to show how difficult it would be for Mia to not have them in her life should she choose to stay.  Mia also annoyed and frustrated me at times because I could see how much she still has to live for – lots of extended family, close grandparents, close family friends, her boyfriend, her best friend, her future, etc.  If I Stay is definitely a great book for understanding mortality and how hard life is.  As Mia says in the book, dying is easy, living is hard.  I can’t say this was one of the best books I’ve read this year (though that may just be because of how heavy it was), but I definitely think it’s worth reading!

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