If I Stay by Gayle FormanWebsite|Twitter
Published: 13 May 2010 (Black Swan)
Book Depository: Paperback
Source: Borrowed from library
Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
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...
I've heard so much about this author and this book has been on my to-read list for a while. When I saw my library had this book I gave in and reserved it, eager to see if it lived up the praise! If I Stay tells the story of Mia, who ends up in a car accident with her family. After the accident she must watch as her unconscious body is taken to hospital and her life hangs in the balance.
I was expecting this book to be quite emotional given the plot and it was. What blew me away was how in a very short amount of time the author manages to make you feel so connected with Mia and her family. The opening scenes focus on the family one morning when snow has hit and they all have the day off. It was just so sweet seeing that family dynamic as the whole situation was so relatable. That sense of foreboding was so strong and made me dread reading on because I knew I loved these characters already.
One of my favourite parts of the book was how it was written. After the car accident the book flits back and forth between Mia's present situation - clinging on to life with her family and friends visiting her in hospital - and her past. It means we get to know her slowly over the course of the book as little bits of her life and revealed throughout. Each time the book goes back to reflect on her life it focuses on a different part of it, from her relationship with her best friend, her boyfriend and her history of playing the cello. There weren't chapters, but the present day sections were broken up by what time it was - as the book takes place over a very short period of time. It made for a really well-paced story.
Speaking of which, I loved how Mia was a musician! I grew up playing the flute, so whilst I wasn't quite as serious about music as Mia is in the book, I could definitely relate to some of those bits, and I just really enjoyed how her love of music was such a big part of her character.
I loved that as you learn about Mia's life, it turns out it isn't perfect. I liked how real her relationship with Adam was and how their troubles were ones so many people would go through. There was no cheesy, soppy element to it and I thought the present day moments where Mia has to witness Adam cope with her accident were really touching.
The book deals with so many themes, from love and loss, to death to the choices you have to make and how difficult they are. It encompasses how important family is and how friends come together and can be just as good as family. For such a short book it sure covers a great deal! I read this book in just a few hours because I just couldn't bare to put it down. I cared so much about what happened to her that I needed to get to the end, and when I did I was so sad that there was no more! It's one of those books where you turn the last few pages back and forth just to check there weren't any pages you missed.
I can see why this author gets such praise. I was particularly impressed with the amount of extra material at the back of the book, which included acknowledgements, a personal note about the true events behind the book and information about all the music dotted throughout the story which plays a key role and had obviously been well researched. I'll definitely be checking out more of her books!
What to read next: Where She Went by Gayle Forman, the follow-up to If I Stay
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