Book Review – If I Stay – Gayle Forman

On a day that started like any other…

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, 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 one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

We start with the snow. The Hall family were about to enjoy a snow day, if only they had decided to stay at home.

En route to their friend’s house they go down an icy road where a pick-up truck drives straight into them. This is where the heart-wrenching novel begins.

This is a novel about Mia – the cello loving beauty, meeting heartthrob guitarist Adam and, of how she loses her family in that devastating crash. She then has to watch over her family and friends going through the trauma as her spirit leaves the scene and wanders around the hospital.

I was really sceptical when I heard If I Stay was being turned into a film (yes, I am one of those people who believes that the books are better), this is because the book is so beautiful, I was worried the actors could not portray the story as beautifully as Forman. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I watched Chloë Grace Moretz take on the character so gracefully. (Even if I was a bit peeved that she had a body double for all of the cello scenes…)

Mia’s parents are loveable rogues; they are still rockers at heart even though they were forced into responsibility when Mia was born and even more so when Teddy – her younger brother – was born.

*SPOILER*

(Okay, I’ve kind of already said it, and it’s in the blurb but still just in case this ruins it for you, I’m sorry!)

The family do not survive the crash, Mia’s parents Kat and Denny were D.O.A’s (death on arrival) and Teddy (along with Mia) were rushed to hospital with serious injuries, however Teddy sadly does not pull through after some false hope from the medicines. It’s heart breaking seeing Mia go through all of this, simply because she can not talk to anyone, she can not have a hug or be comforted by her friends or remaining family, she’s all alone. Wandering around the hospital. In a sea of depression.

I pretty much cried the whole way through the book. This is not such a bad thing (or so it may seem) it’s not as if the whole book was sad, it’s because of the dramatic irony, meaning the reader knows what is happening before the characters do.

The novel is made up of flashbacks, I think this was a great way for Forman to base his book because it meant that the main tragedy happened within the first ten pages, which leaves him the remaining 200 to tell the story leading up to that point and then after until Mia wakes up.

I managed to keep it together through the film a lot more than when I read the book as I felt a little bit more prepared for what was going to happen. However, when it gets to the point that Mia’s family are saying goodbye – just in case – and it is her Grandfathers turn, my heart drops and the tears start flowing.

(This is his speech)

“It’s okay,” he tells me. “If you want to go. Everyone wants you to stay. I want you to stay more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life.” His voice cracks with emotion. He stops, clears his throat, takes a breath, and continues.

“But that’s what I want and I could see why it might not be what you want. So I just wanted to tell you that I understand if you go. It’s okay if you have to leave us. It’s okay if you want to stop fighting”.

(Now where are the tissues?!)

If you would like to buy the film, click here… Or if you would like to buy the book, click here…

Keep an eye out for my review of the sequel, Where She Went 🙂

If you have any suggestions for my next blog, comment below or tweet me @LHutchon

Lucy.

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