If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I really don’t know why I put off reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman for so long. Maybe I felt like there were already too many YA novels about grief and death? But I’m a sucker for books like those when they’re beautifully written so I knew I’d read this eventually. Because of a certain Twitter conversation, I knew I was going to read If I Stay sooner rather than later.

Here’s the summary from Gayle Forman’s website:

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, 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 one decision she has leftβ€”the most important decision she’ll ever make.

If I had known how much I’d enjoy reading If I Stay, I wouldn’t have waited so long to read it. I think Mia’s interactions with the various people in her life – parents, younger brother, grandparents, boyfriend and best friend – were done really well. It was surprising how fully fleshed out the secondary characters were, given that there were so many of them. It felt like I really got to know them as Mia looked back on her significant memories of them. If I Stay is one of those novels that are all about relationships and can make readers feel all kinds of feelings. It’s a book filled with heartache – it always is when we’re dealing with life and death situations – but I never felt overwhelmed. I admit I found certain sections of the book a bit slow but I didn’t mind because I understood that Mia had a difficult decision to make – the kind of decision that involves a lot of introspection. I find it amazing that I haven’t seen spoilers about Mia’s choice even though I’ve read so many reviews for this book. I guess the book has such a beautiful ending that people understood it would be a shame to ruin the experience for other readers.

I really liked how close Mia was with her non-traditional parents because it’s always nice to see supportive parents in YA. Mia’s parents were the opposite of strict and they reminded me a bit of my own parents. I was also a fan of the slow burn romance between Mia and Adam. How they love different kinds of music but it still brought them together – Mia plays the cello and loves classical music while Adam plays the guitar and is a member of a rock band. Their relationship isn’t perfect because they both have their issues and they had to work until they found their rhythm. I think what they have is intense and sweet at the same time. I’m not as into music as these two but that didn’t keep me from liking their love story. I know I said I liked how things ended in If I Stay and I was okay with leaving things like that but I have a feeling I’ll be reading Where She Went soon. I can’t resist, knowing that it’s written from Adam’s point of view. If I Stay is a delightful read in so many ways and is the kind of contemporary YA that I can recommend without hesitation. I’m so glad I gave in and read it. Will now be on the lookout for Gayle Forman’s other novels. Going back to the reason why I read this book, do I think Adam and Tom (from The Piper’s Son) will be mates if they ever met? Maybe. But I get the feeling Adam would get along better with Jake (from Saving June). Or they could all just form a band and have jam sessions together.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
See Michelle Read
Wear the Old Coat
The Readventurer

24 thoughts on “If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  1. Great review, I’m so glad to see that you enjoyed this book. I adored it. I really liked Mia’s relationship with family and the struggle she faced in deciding to stay or go made my heart hurt but I enjoyed the storytelling overall. I really, really loved Adam.

    • Yeah, Mia’s relationships with her family and with Adam were what made If I Stay such an enjoyable read. I loved Adam in this one as well, he seems like a great guy and I’m looking forward to knowing more about him in the sequel.

  2. Oh, yay. Yay. Yay. I should clap my hands or something, I’m really really glad you FINALLY read If I Stay.

    And you are so right about the ending and spoilers. I know I read it and did not know what the ending was going to be exactly. Like, one could probably infer it from the existence of Where She Went, but still, it’s great that people aren’t disclosing that spoiler in their reviews.

    I also loved Mia’s relationship with her parents and her brother. Like, I sobbed and sobbed when reading about them and their death and her memories of them. Sigh.

    • Maybe we should just high five instead? πŸ˜› *high five*

      I love not knowing the ending. I felt like it could have gone either way, even with the existence of Where She Went, you know? I’m not sure if I knew that it was set three years after this one.

      I loved how close Mia was to her family, it’s always nice to read YA books that have that kind of thing instead of just focusing on the romance. Writing this review and reading the comments is making me want to pick read Where She Went ASAP.

  3. This is such a fabulous book – even with the serious subject matter, and the moments that had my crying my eyes out, it still felt uplifting. And I loved Where She Went too.

    • Uplifting is the perfect word to describe it. It never became too depressing even with everything that happened to Mia’s family. Yay, good to know you loved Adam’s book too.

  4. I’m glad you finally got around to reading this one. I feel like WSW leans more toward upper-YA, which is a great thing, since there is such a void for new adult books. (people in their late teens/early twenties) When I listened to this one (fabulous audiobook), I loved it and gave it five stars. I gave WSW four stars but I think about that one more often. I’m anxious to read your review of that to see if it confirms my feeling that I was being a jerk by giving it four stars:)

    • Love reading New Adult titles! We really need more of them. I’m glad Where She Went falls under that category, really looking forward to reading it now. I had a feeling writing a review for If I Stay would convince me to read Where She Went, good thing I already have a copy. πŸ˜› Don’t worry about it, Flann, I have such a hard time giving star ratings too. Sometimes, I wish I can go back and change them.

  5. Ah, I’m so glad you liked this one. I too thought it was slow at times but I never minded. I took a long time to finally pick this one up as well. Don’t you love when books are so good they make you wish you had read them sooner? I hope you get to WSW soon. I will definitely be looking out for Gayle Forman’s next book, in fact I think I already added it to my GoodReads TBR.

    Flannery I do not think you are being a jerk. πŸ™‚

    • I love books that make me wish I read them sooner. Just means they were good enough to make me regret not picking them up. But then again, it’s nice that it has taken me a while to read this because I don’t have to wait for Where She Went to be released. πŸ˜› Me too, I have her next novels (companion books from different POVs again) in my wishlist on Goodreads. I’m hoping they’ll be as good as this one.

  6. I’m glad to finally read your thoughts on this one! I agree about the development of secondary characters–this book was about relationships more than anything, and that she was able to convey so many relationships so fully in so few pages still impresses me. I honestly was sad to see there was a sequel to If I Stay, because to me, the ending was open to interpretation. You could judge Mia as having made either decision, and I felt this was kind of taken away by the existence of Where She Went.

    LOVE the band idea with Adam and co. The Piper’s Son will likely be my first Marchetta since it’s available through my library on Kindle.

    • I’m glad I finally got around to posting a review for this! πŸ˜› Yep, this one is really about the relationships and I loved that. Hmm I knew going in that there was going to be a sequel so I didn’t have a problem with it. And like I said, I really liked Adam (maybe even more than Mia?) so I look forward to hearing more of his voice.

      The band would be a good idea, right? I’ll keep it in mind for the next time a musically-inclined YA character pops up – she/he can join the band. πŸ˜› Read Saving Francesca first before The Piper’s Son because they’re companion novels and the latter occurs five years after the former.

  7. She has a pretty FANFREAKINtastic family, no? I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I still need to read Saving June so I can understand what you meant in your last two sentences. πŸ˜‰ (AND read Where She Went!)

    • Yep, her family is pretty incredible! So are her friends. πŸ™‚ You should read Saving June soon! I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I did. Oh and I’m planning to read Where She Went soon.

  8. I love this book. One of my best read last year! I cry bucket of tears while reading this. You really should read Where She Went soon. I love Adam’s song lyrics on that one.
    I read If I Stay before reading Saving June & I also mentioned in my review that Jake reminds me of Adam. So I agree with you that they would really get along better! They’re like long lost buddy.

    • Maricar, I’ve finished reading Where She Went but wasn’t able to put up a review because of Marchetta Madness. LOL was supposed to do it this week but wasn’t able to squeeze it in. Maybe next week? πŸ˜›

      It’s funny that you thought Jake and Adam would be friends too. Maybe you’ll feel the same way when you meet Tom in The Piper’s Son? But read Saving Francesca first because they’re companion novels.

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