Review: If I Stay – Gayle Forman

if i stay

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #1
Published: April 2, 2009
Opening Sentence: “Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.”
Author Website | Goodreads | Amazon

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.

This novel was short and sweet and absolutely wonderful. The topic is extremely heavy and I figured the whole book would be too, but it wasn’t as depressing as I assumed. Don’t get me wrong, I cried at one point, but there’s a difference between “dark” and “sad”. I liked this novel from the moment I started reading it, and that’s saying something.

If I Stay is so short, about 200 pages in my version, that I was wondering how on Earth everything that needed to happen would happen in such a relatively small amount of time. Again, it’s short and sweet, but gets the point across splendidly and without the backstory on that one aunt that kind of makes an appearance but not really but is still “totally vital to the story” for xyz reason. (That can also be known as “fluff” if you don’t like run-on sentences.) I honestly think the book may have dragged had it been any longer.

I truly enjoyed reading about the characters in this book. I felt like they were all unique even in their similarities and all the personality traits come so easily and subtly that you know they’re there without ever noticeably acknowledging them. The one instance of this I have in mind is Mia being somewhat prejudiced in her view of music styles and the people who like them. She states more than once that she’s uncomfortable in certain circumstances and feels out of place for reasons that are sometimes based on something other than actual experience. She is quick to assume people are too different from her (and she from them) to get along with and that makes her all the more human. It’s a wonderful touch.

At the beginning (it’s a breakfast scene) I was wondering if Mia’s family was supposed to be a depiction of a “typical” well functioning family or if Forman corned it up a bit too much. The way they talked and interacted didn’t ring completely realistic to me and as a whole they seemed like the stereotypical romanticized families you see in holiday TV movies. Perhaps Forman was trying to spotlight the good things in the family and I’m just getting the wrong idea, but even the Cleavers (and other 50s/60s sitcom families) are getting a run for their money with the Hall family.

Other than the “corny family moments” thing I have nothing bad to say about this novel. I enjoyed it a lot and hope to eventually have it sitting on my bookshelf. I’m extremely excited to see what’s up with the next book in the series, Where She Went.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviews from the rest of the series:
Where She Went (#2)

4 thoughts on “Review: If I Stay – Gayle Forman

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