Before I even picked up this novel, I knew that it would be an incredible story that would leave a lasting impact on me. With every sentence that Gayle Forman wrote, this statement became more and more true. If I Stay tells the unique tale of a girl named Mia who loses everything she has ever known in an instant. When school is closed because of a snow day, a harmless drive out of the city goes horribly astray when she and her family get into a terrible car accident. Just like that, practically everything she has ever loved is taken away from her; her mom, her dad and her little brother Teddy. When she falls into a coma, you think that you will never get to know anything about her and her recently deceased family, but this story is one more unique than anything I have ever read before. Her whole life story is told through a series of flashbacks she has about her life before the accident, but the story takes an interesting turn when a nurse tells her that whether she wakes up from her coma or not is ultimately decided by her. She then spends the entire novel contemplating whether she should stay or go, fading into the black nothingness of death to join her family or waking up to a grey world without them.
This novel is set in modern time, but the context and theme of loss in the story is one that could really take place in any time. Furthermore, this helped me connect on an even deeper level to Mia, and also because it was set in a city much like my own.
This novel is written in first person narrative, and is told through the main character, Mia, having flashbacks about her life rather than utilizing straightforward narrative. She also experiences a few out of body experiences where she can see what others around her are doing, despite that she is in a coma.
This book was one of the best novels I have ever read for multiple reasons. One being, as I already said, that I could connect so well to the main character. The constant music references to punk bands such as the Clash and classical composers like Bach and Mozart definitely made this novel very engrossing as well, and this added a new layer of realism to the story. As well, this was a constant reminder to me that even though this was a fictional story, it is also something that could very possibly happen in real life, and helped me connect to Mia on an even deeper level. This novel perfectly captured everything that I love in a book: Romance, tragedy, suspense, music and an undeniable realism about the characters. I have absolutely no criticisms for If I Stay, and look forward to reading the rest of the series along with other novels by Gayle Forman.
Book Reviewed By Ayla Tezler
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