Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Title: If I Stay (GoodReads)
Author: Gayle Forman
Page Count: 234
Genre: Contemporary YA
Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, admiring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. 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 only decision she has left. It is the most important decision she’ll ever make.
I absolutely loved this book. From the opening sentence, I was hooked. Mia and her family are just so realistic. Really, all of the characters are. That was definitely my favorite thing about this book. All the characters had their own distinct personalities. They all had their strengths and weaknesses.
Absent/abusive parents have become sort of a cliché in YA literature, so it was really nice to read a book where the parents were such a positive force in the main character’s life. It was also nice to read about a YA relationship with actual problems. I’m not talking about huge problems like one of them is abusive or addicted to drugs or anything like that. I’m talking about two good, regular people who love each other but still have fights. They don’t meet and instantly fall in love. They’re awkward around each other for a few weeks. They have fights. They struggle with planning for their future. They’re realistic, and I wanted things to work out for them so much more than I do with all these insta-love relationships I’ve been reading lately.
I also enjoyed the way this novel was written. It alternates between the present and the past. Some people might not like all the flashbacks, but I really enjoyed them. I loved getting to know her friends and family and seeing how all those memories influenced her decision making process.
Really, I’m not sure what more I can say about this book other than it was awesome and I think more people should read it. If I did not currently have like eight other books checked out from the library (with three more on hold that I need to get soon), I would be going out right now to get the sequel.
This is definitely a book that I plan on having on my bookshelf when I’m an English teacher – because that is apparently the main way I rank books now.