If I Stay by Gayle Forman

if i stay
Seventeen-year-old Mia has everything: a promising career as a cellist, awesome former-punk parents that really get her and her music, and best of all, an understanding alterna-rock boyfriend who is the yang to her yin. Then one day on a routine drive near their home, her family is involved in a terrible car accident. Mia’s life is nearly lost. Now treading a fuzzy comatose line between life and death, Mia has to decide whether she wants to give up and let go or stay and fight. As the minutes tick by during the the longest day of Mia’s life, she mentally contemplates the consequences of either choice. Friends and relatives move in and out of her hospital room and her memory, each one weighing in on Mia’s decision, whether they know it or not. As the dawn breaks the day after her accident, Mia finally decides what she wants to do. Then one last person speaks, and everything changes once again…you may think you’ve read this story before, but you haven’t. Not the way Gayle Forman tells it, in an unsentimental and sincere way that may remind you of certain other well-crafted weep-tastic reads on this list, but which has a unique style all its own. Best of all are Forman’s characterizations, especially of Mia’s punk rock parents, who remain realistically cool for adults, despite their suburban trappings. You won’t want to miss this evocative tearjerker, which will soon be a movie directed by former Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke. (2 weepies)

34 thoughts on “If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  1. I am very happy to say that I am among the few who got an advanced copy, and let me just say that this is my all-time favorite book now. The way Forman writes is amazing, and the plot is so much fun to follow. I totally recommend it; EVERYONE should buy it when it comes out.

  2. sounds like a really good book

    i am a total sucker for all the weepy-ish-type-books, but i dont even know why? but who cares this book sounds like one that ima be totaly into.

    cant wait for it, a million thanks for commenting on it…..and for all the time that you spend on the website just to make sure that not necessarily teens only but anyone can get a great description on the books! 🙂

    thnx lots,

  3. Seventeen is an inconvenient time to be in love. Mia has two loves in her life – her first love music, and boyfriend Adam. Half of Mia wants more than anything to go to Juilliard, a prestigious music school. But Julliard is in New York, and Adam is in Oregon. At least, he’s in Oregon sometimes – his band Shooting Star is starting to take off and he’s always busy. Between Mia’s rehearsals and Adam’s gigs they barely have any time to spend together as it is. Would their relationship survive if she went to Juilliard?

    Then one day Mia’s family go for a drive, and their car is hit by a pickup truck. Mia’s parents are killed instantly and Mia finds herself outside of her own body. She can’t feel or do anything, just watch as her body is transported to the hospital, put on a ventilator and operated on. Then she watches as her family come, her Gran and Gramps, her aunts and uncles, then her friend Kim and finally Adam.

    Mia has a choice to make, but it’s no longer music or Adam. It’s the only choice that really matters in the end. Life or death. But with everything she’s lost, does she have enough left to live for?

    Oh dear this book made me cry. It’s not very often a book can move me to tears – usually I need to be listening to soppy music to get that lump in the throat, but If I Stay needed no musical assistance. It’s tragic, it’s beautiful and it’s brilliant.

    For the first few pages, If I Stay comes across like a light hearted story about a teenager, her love life and her kooky family, but from the moment Forman hits you with the devastatingly detached description of the aftermath of the crash, you know you’ve picked up something special.

    What follows is a touching and emotional examination of love in all its forms – the love between children and parents, teenage love, love for music, love between friends, the bond people share through mutual love of another person – and the choices, and sacrifices, we sometimes have to make for love.

    Incredibly sad, but life affirming and heart warming, everyone who has ever had to make a difficult choice involving things they love should read this book. I challenge any of you not to cry on the final few pages!

    If you enjoyed this, you may also like Before I Die by Jenny Downham and Just One Wish by Janette Rallison.

    My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy of this wonderful book.

  4. Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love— music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind? Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

  5. In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck. A sophisticated, layered, and heart achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

  6. I got the book early. Maybe that explains the spelling errors. Oh well, I really didn’t mind.

    I am being honest. Understand that I am a harsh critic.

    I thought it got slow at parts. However, I couldn’t put the book down. Every second I was flipping the pages wondering, does Mia live? You’ll have to read to find out. Got it for christmas, and heck read it in one day. Captivating read, but the end was written so well that it will take your breath away.

  7. I just read this book on Saturday, and I loved it. I love the real-life mood, really intense but also beautiful. Not to mention I love Mia’s boyfriend, Adam, who reminds me so much of one of my favorite theater characters, Roger in RENT. This story is one I won’t forget, and I even recommended it to my mother, a Community College english professor, for use in her kiddie lit class.

  8. I thought it was simply okay. I am harsh and that being said, I didn’t think it was that original at all. It wasn’t that creative. Although I did like, and felt a connection to the main character, Mia, I didn’t like the home she came from or her boyfriend.

    Overall, It was okay. There are better books out there and worse books.

  9. I have a feeling that If I Stay may be one of those books that sells millions of copies, wins numerous awards, and inspires people to pick up a pen and tell a story of their own.

    It starts off with a lighthearted chapter that showcases the close relationship Mia shares with her Mum, Dad and younger brother Teddy. I instantly fell in love with these four characters, as they reminded me very much of my own parents and sister: happy, fun, and more like friends than family. However, by page eleven, the tone of the book shifts, and everything has changed.

    Mia is left staring at her broken body, while her family lie sprawled around her. She finds herself in a kind of limbo, a limbo where she can see, hear and touch, but can’t feel anything. From here she must make the difficult decision of staying on Earth and living, or dying and hopefully seeing her family again. This has to be one of the most difficult decisions anyone could ever be faced with, and I applaud Gayle Forman for writing about it so eloquently and vividly.

    I loved how the past was interweaved with the present, as this allowed us to get a glimpse into Mia’s life before the accident, and to really get to know her. Mia is a strong and appealing character, and one which I think a lot of people will identify with. I also have to mention Adam, Mia’s boyfriend. He’s caring, thoughtful and the kind of person that we should all get to meet at some point or another. In fact, I think he might be my favourite part of the whole book.

    ‘Just Listen’, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

    The above sentence is one of my favourites. To imagine that anyone’s voice could sound like shrapnel has to be one of the most effective ways to describe someone dealing with unimaginable grief and fear. If that doesn’t make you want to read more, I don’t know what will.

    If I Stay is moving, touching and beautifully written. It’s so gripping that you have to read all two hundred and seven pages in one go, and is sure to be one of the year’s most talked about releases. With brilliant characters that easily come to life, as well as a story so memorable and meaningful, I’d say that Gayle Forman is well on her way to Alice Sebold-like superstardom.

  10. All I can say is WOW. I finished this book at 2 AM this morning and I’m still thinking about how much it moved me. I cried several times and just fell in love with Mia and all those who surrounded her, “her family”. It’s a truly touching and a wonderful story, when I finished I was left wanting to know more about her families past adventures. And how Forman describes the families love of music drives you to want to pick up an instrument and learn to play. I enjoy all types of music and can’t wait to check out Yo-Yo-Ma, aka “Yo Mama” per Adam. This is a great read and you will not be disappointed.

  11. Although I’d read the synopsis multiple times, I never really “got” what the story was until I read the first chapter when it all happens. When you find out Mia is making the choice as her body lays waiting in the ICU. She becomes an invisible observer, watching and narrating her tragic ordeal from the time the accident happens. And it is here that we join her on her quest. To ultimately decide to stay or to let go.

    The choice is resonated through flashbacks, that feature Mia’s parents, brother Teddy, boyfriend Adam, her love of the cello and her best friend Kim. While the prose of the novel would seemingly be depressing, these glimpses are filled with hope, love and often times laughter. Helping the reader better understand Mia’s struggle between life and death.

    Though the novel is clearly small in its mere 208 pages, it doesn’t seem inadequate in any way possible. Forman’s writing is gripping, demanding that the pages are turned. The story is exceptional.

    Despite the solemn tone, I didn’t find myself shedding any tears until the last three pages of the novel. Not that I didn’t feel my emotions stirring throughout the entire novel, especially a scene including Mia and her grandfather, but I think my emotions bubbled until the last possilbe moment when they finally spilled over the edge.

    A powerful novel, intense, and moving. You can’t help but find yourself taking note of the people and things that make your life worth living, after this experience.

  12. This book is not that good people. Everyone is going on about how they cried and blah blah blah. It’s not sad. Why would you cry? It’s not even good. I’ve read tons better books. This book is stupid.


    She chooses to stay on earth for her boy friend. Wow, boyfriend over family, huh? I don’t like this book. They say the F word like every other page. It’s just stupid. There’s no point to it. Why is everyone talking about how wonderful it is? Did I miss something? Don’t waste your time.

  13. Maybe I am missing something here, but even though I loved the characters and the set-up, I felt that Mia seemed too disconnected when she was deciding what to do, and I didn’t cry once! I was quite disappointed in pretty much the last third of the book.

  14. This book didn’t do it for me. What was the point really? That her family was messed up, but she loved them anyway? That her boyfriend was weird but he pulled her through it? That her best friend loved getting in fights and hated most people on the Earth? WHAT WAS THE POINT?

    When I finished the book the book I just sat there I on my bed, with a black expression on my face. I didn’t get it. I read the last sentence over and over again. Hoping to get a tear starting, it didn’t work.

    I didn’t cry, because it wasn’t sad. I didn’t really like Mia’s personality at all. I was upset when I finished the book, because reading the reviews on here I thought it would be good. Guess what? I was wrong.

  15. Sorry to hear that, Malayia. Reading tastes differ wildly, and sometimes what works for one person doesn’t work at all for someone else. Better luck on your next reading choice!

  16. I agree with Jen Hubert. Reading tasttes differ wildly. That being said, this was too mushy-gushy for me, if you know what I mean. I would rather read a book that successfully makes me laugh, rather than trying to attempt at making me cry.

  17. I loved this book because I could not put it down. I had to keep reading because I could not guess what Mia’s final choice would be. I thought the supporting characters were well developed.

  18. I thought this was okay. I think I might have been expecting more of an emotional connection, but as I turned the pages I still wasn’t getting pulled in. I felt like it was just building and building and I just found myself side tracked with wondering if she lives or not –I didn’t really pay attention to her recounting her actual life. After I read it, I skimmed a few reviews and found a lot of people cried? I think I might have to read it again or something and not be so fast paced about it. One thing I did love was the relationship with her boyfriend. They seemed like such a sweet couple. All in all, wasn’t bad but wasn’t amazing.

  19. I was reading this book, and found that it mirrored alot of myself and my values for music. I couldn’t put it down. I finished it within 2 hours and I wanted more, a sequel to Mia’s life.
    I was crying in places that had me totally submerged in emotion, and the strength of her boyfriend Adam, when she needed him most.
    This will become a great film, one to make you value everything you have to live for and need within life.
    Recommended to all.

  20. I really liked this book. It really makes you understand how fragile life is… When i finished reading it i called my friend in Canada (i live in Australia) because tomorrow she might be dead and i would never have the chance to say goodbye…

  21. I absolutly devoured this book. I myself am a cellist,and I also have a younger sibling.This book almost made me cry. All people should read this. :))

  22. I did like the book–it was kind of that dramatic, mushy genre that isn’t really supposed to make you laugh, but those are good every once in a while. I’m a cellist also & Mia’s life was defined by her music, which was really cool to read (I’m always looking for books about music & instruments). Definitely would read this again.
    I’m worried about the movie, though. I guess it could be well done since they could actually put audio into it, but you know how movies are…I might not see it.

  23. I liked the idea of the book and that, along with its many recommendations, led me to read it. But it was sort of disappointing. First, my big pet peeve is that I think she got some of the classical music stuff a little wrong (this only bothers me because I’m a classical musician and am obsessed with everything about it). It seemed like she did research but she didn’t really get what she was writing. Plus, I think it could have been written to be a tad more original…and the ending was predictable. It did have its moments though!

    I’m just throwing this out there…don’t be mad if you disagree.

  24. I picked up this book because it’s so close to my life,as I am a teen cellist living in Oregon. However, I agree with Kim, I was disappointed that some of the classical music stuff was off. Also, it was really predictable. I would to have loved to be surprised at the end. This book wasn’t all I expected it to be, but there were some very good parts, and I think I enjoyed it overall.

  25. I work in a library and I picked this up simply because it was new and had an interesting cover. It was SO good. I ended up finishing it in less than two days. Some of it was a little “random” and the end was a little too predictable, but I still LOVED it.

  26. Hi Sarah,

    I’m glad you liked it, keep your eyes peeled for the movie, which is being directed by former Twilight dircetor Catherine Hardwicke.

  27. i really liked this book but what i dont get is that she is in coma then adam comes and gives her a speech and she decides to wake up then she wakes up ?

  28. I loved this book but i did not read the advanced copy. whts the difference is there a big major part of the story? But thhe 1 i read was amazing and i reccomend it to all genders and agges 11 and up

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