Rating: 4 stars
Warning: This book review contains spoilers of some of the events that unfold in this book. Viewer discretion is advised for those interested in reading If I Stay.
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 friends behind?
Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.
If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.
If I Stay was a wonderful read that kept me going until I finished. It was a read that took me only one day to complete because I wanted to know what happened next.
There are many reasons why I enjoyed reading If I Stay. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book is because I loved the portrayal of Mia and Adam’s relationship. Throughout the book, the reader sees Mia’s relationship with her family is perfect. She gets along well with her parents, who seem like the kind and understanding parents every teenager wishes for during their youth. And her younger brother Teddy idolizes her. She lives a charmed life where she goes to school and is extremely talented at playing the cello. She has only a few friends, but yet is extremely loved by those closest to her. Her relationship with everyone around her is perfect and this is one of the many flaws this book had to me.
However, her relationship with her boyfriend Adam is different from the rest of her perfect life. In If I Stay, Adam and Mia’s relationship is far from perfect. The reader can see that both Adam and Mia love each other. But they aren’t perfect for each other. In If I Stay, the reader sees the problems with their relationship through the rocky start their relationship took and the fights Mia and Adam got in during the time they’ve been together. But despite these two aspects of their relationship, the reader can see that Mia and Adam love each other. So while they might not be perfect together, the love they have for each other is enough for them to get through their troubles.
If I Stay is also an enjoyable read because of the background information about Mia the reader is given. Throughout the book, Mia gives the reader intricate details about her life and reminisces on her memories as she tries to decide whether to live or die. These memories are each a piece of the puzzle that allow the reader to get a better understanding of Mia as a character and allow the reader to get a glimpse of what her family is like before the accident.
Mia’s character development throughout If I Stay also contributes this book to being a worthwhile read for me. In the beginning of the book, Forman hints to the reader that Mia has already made her choice. However, as Mia reflects on her life and what she has to gain and lose, she chooses a completely different path than what the reader expects from her. She chooses the hard path, knowing that she will face uncertainty and loss by continuing to live her life. She will experience pain that she has never before faced in her perfectly charmed life. She knows that both her parents and brother are dead, but still chooses to live, knowing she will have to come to terms with losing them and living the rest of her life without them. But she chooses that path anyway because there are people still alive that love her and want her to live.
Another aspect of If I Stay I really enjoyed was all of the music references. Forman really did her research on music and I love seeing books that find some way of incorporating music into the story. I also loved the music references because music was a big part of Mia’s life and it’s one of the things that bring Mia and Adam together.
What I didn’t enjoy while reading If I Stay was how perfect Mia’s life was before the accident. Mia had two supportive parents who both loved her and supported every decision she made and a younger brother who deeply worshipped the ground she walked on. Her relationships with peers at school were perfect and she was an extremely talented musician. To me, her life was just too perfect. There was never one moment before the accident where Mia’s life took a drastic turn and that bothered me. If I Stay is a young adult novel, but the young adult in the novel never seems like an angsty teenager to me. Everyone goes through things in life, but Mia’s life doesn’t at all describe any of the struggles most teenagers go through during this phase in their life. And this bothers me because nobody has that perfect of a life.
Another aspect of If I Stay I didn’t enjoy was the ending. Throughout the book, Mia had already made up her mind that she wasn’t going to stay and that she was going to die like her parents and brother. But I feel as if Forman doesn’t really allow Mia to make her choice. While Mia is watching these events unfold in the hospital, she tries to avoid seeing Adam because she’s scared she’s going to change her mind about leaving. But whenever Adam comes to see her in the hospital, she’s in the room watching as he tells her to stay. And in that moment, she goes from watching him talk to her to being back in her body. I don’t feel like she gets a choice in the matter because I feel as if Adam made her choice for her. It is when she watches him agonize over the thought of losing her that she says she can’t take any of this anymore and goes back into her body, knowing that living is going to be harder than it was before. I feel like she makes this choice because she saw Adam there and was able to picture her future if she decided to stay. And that frustrates me not because I didn’t want her to live but because I felt as if her choice was taken away from her because of how quickly she changed her mind.
However, I really enjoyed reading If I Stay. As a young adult reader, it was the type of book I was itching to read and can’t wait to read more of Forman’s novels and the next book in this series Where She Went.
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