If I Stay by Gayle Forman
4 out of 5 stars
I decided I needed to read this book after hearing about it on a crafty forum I’m on. She called it “Really gripping. Emotional. Intense, but also sweet and occasionally funny.” And she was right. J
The story is about a 17 year old girl, Mia, and a big choice she has to make, one that will change her life forever. I haven’t read a book this emotional in a long time. I will admit it, I cried. And stupid me, I read this and then the next weekend watched “My Sister’s Keeper”…yeah, dumb!
The dynamic between Mia and her family and between Mia and her boyfriend, Adam, made my heart hurt. They are so happy and connected, it’s amazing. Little brother Teddy is the coolest kid ever. Her dad is a punk rocker turned bow-tie wearing middle-school teacher. Her mom “gets” her. Boyfriend Adam is an amazing musician, but punk rock instead of classical like Mia, who loves her with all his heart and wants only the best for her. And that is all I can say directly about the book without spoilers, because exactly 12 pages and a paragraph into the book, big things happen.
“…the pavement grows slick and there are gray chunks of what looks like cauliflower.” Wow. Forman is VERY good at describing the accident, almost TOO good. The thing that got me the most was the music playing after the accident. I like classical music, my dad got me into it when I was a teenager. (Yes, I listened to normal music like Guns N Roses and Nirvana too lol) My favorite way to spend a Saturday morning was just us 2 at home, listening to Mozart and reading the paper and books. I miss that. (Because I’m a grown-up now, he didn't die. eeep!) Anyway, I could hear the music playing in this scene and it haunted me.
It’s definitely a cliché for Mia to have her out-of-body experience and follow her wrecked body to the hospital, etc, but it works. The book alternates between the present scenes of Mia dealing with being the only possible survivor of the crash and past scenes of her family, how she began playing the cello, her starting relationships with Adam and BFF Kim. At times, I wanted to “fast-forward” through the past scenes and get back to the action, but I did enjoy them.
So I mentioned that I cried…I got misty eyed in several parts, but the part that really got me was when her Gramps tells her it’s okay to let go. Oh jeez, I’m getting blubbery just rereading and typing about it! “It’s okay if you have to leave us. It’s okay if you want to stop fighting.” You’d have to have a heart three sizes too small to not feel something in that scene!
And then the ending scene with Adam. “Stay. If you stay, I’ll do whatever you want. …if you need me to go away, I’ll do that…that would suck, but I’d do it. I can lose you like that if I don’t lose you today. I’ll let you go. If you stay.” Is that kind of love only found in fiction? Just wondering. *Le sigh* Side note: we have the iPod on and I just realized I was listening to Weezer’s “If You’re Wondering If I Want You To, I Want You To”. Very appropriate.
In the end, Mia decides to stay. There’s a sequel to this coming out soon (already out??) and I can’t wait for it. I hope it is as good and thought-provoking and…feeling…as this one. (I know “feeling” isn’t the word I want, but I can’t think what it is.)