At first I was doubtful about If I Stay, figuring it was going to be some overwrought teenage melodrama. (The moody cover with the girl on it didn’t help.) Boy was I wrong – it turned out to be this lyrical, deeply moving book about life, death, and love.
This is a very introspective novel with little to no plot. Mia’s body was seriously injured in a car accident, but her essence seems to be hovering in limbo. She will have to decide whether she wants to live or quietly slip away. While she considers her choice, Mia observes the various people gathered at the hospital, and she looks back on her relationships with her family, her friends, and her boyfriend, none of which will ever be the same.
I was afraid that Mia’s main concern would be TEH BOYFRIEND, but I was pleasantly surprised. He does play a large role – he is Mia’s first love, after all – but equal import is placed on her mother, her father, her younger brother, her best friend, her grandparents, even music. Gayle Forman is a master at crafting wonderful vignettes – Mia’s first date with Adam, the birth of her brother, a day in Portland with her grandfather – that showcase all the love in her life. You feel punched in the gut because Mia will never see some of these people again. But you also hope that she will realize that she has so much to stay for, despite all that she has lost.
Four (possibly and a half) stars.