[Review] If I Stay - Gayle Forman

Title of Book: If I Stay
Series: If I Stay #1
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Definitions
Publication Year: 2014
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 210

'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.
Everybody has to make choices.
Some might break you.
For seventeen-year-old Mia, surrounded by a wonderful family, friends and a gorgeous boyfriend decisions might seem tough, but they're all about a future full of music and love, a future that's brimming with hope.
But life can change in an instant.
A cold February morning . . . a snowy road . . . and suddenly all of Mia's choices are gone. Except one.
As alone as she'll ever be, Mia must make the most difficult choice of all.
Haunting, heartrending and ultimately life-affirming, If I Stay will make you appreciate all that you have, all that you've lost - and all that might be. 

If I Stay is a young adult contemporary book about Mia, a gifted cellist whose life turned upside down after a tragic accident. This book takes place around Mia’s accident. It’s told from Mia’s point of view, alternating between present time (when she’s in a coma) and a series of flashbacks.
I would say that this book is Mia-centric. Because it revolves around her struggle to make a decision whether to stay or just leave. I love Mia. She’s a music geek. She fell in love with cello at an early age and has been playing it ever since. To be honest, I envy her that she has the luxury of being able to practice Cello for eight hours a day. She loves music and her family fully supports it. I never know anyone that has that kind of privilege, so I can’t really say whether her character is realistic or not in that sense. I just think that Mia’s life is so fortunate. That being said, the accident is a big blow for Mia. It’s like suddenly her privilege is being taken away from her.
Mia’s relationship with her boyfriend, Adam, turns up quite a lot in this book. As Adam is one of the things that Mia took in consideration of her decision to leave or stay. The thing is, because it’s told from Mia’s memories I didn’t get a chance to see the real Adam. Adam appears like an extension of Mia’s life. I don’t know. He’s just too perfect, I think. His only flaw is how he dealt with Mia leaving for Juilliard.
I love that this music takes a focal point in this book. Music is the one that bonds Mia’s family. Music is also the one that connects Mia and Adam. Regardless what kind of genre that each gravitates towards to. They’re just bonded through music. I love music. It’s just amazing to see positive effects music can have.
The narrative can be difficult to keep track of at times. Because it keeps jumping around back and forth. This narrative style makes the reading experience more immersive though. It feels like when you want to decide something, then you remember a particular past event that might influence your decision. I can see that Mia’s memories did put certain weight on her decision. Especially her memories with her brother Teddy, how close she was with him made her reconsider leaving life all behind.
What disappoints me is, this book didn’t move me as much as I hope to. Maybe it’s because my expectation for this book is too high. I read the book after it’s been adapted into a movie. This book has a lot of buzz and so does the movie. People keep saying that they cried while reading/ watching If I Stay and I didn’t. It’s a sad book, but that’s it.
In conclusion, If I Stay is still an enjoyable read. I’ll read the sequel, Where She Went. The second book is told from Adam’s point of view. I’m interested to see things from his perspective. If you already have this book in your TBR, go read it. Ignore the buzz for a while and just enjoy the story.

“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you”

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