Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

What if you had everything:
A gorgeous boyfriend who was madly in love with you?
Quirky hip parents who totally got you?
A musical talent that could take you anywhere?
What if your biggest problem in life was choosing which path to take?
Follow your first love--music-- to New York City?
Or stay with your boyfriend, friends, and family?
What if one day, you went out for a drive...
And in an instant everything changed?
What if suddenly all the other choices were gone?
Except for one--the only one that truly mattered?
What would you do?

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This was one of the rare books I’d heard almost only good things about, and it seemed right up my alley – I love being moved to tears by a book – so naturally, I was excited to read If I Stay once I got my hands on it. And at the beginning it seemed like it would live up to my admittedly high expectations – the scene of the accident was described so well that I could visualize it all easily. I actually had the feeling I was there with Mia when she found her parents.

However, things started going downhill fast. After the accident, I found myself unable to relate to Mia anymore. Some of the flashbacks connections to the present seemed forced and unnecessary – I remember one scene where Mia talked about how quickly time passed the time she went to a casino just to explain how quickly time passed at the hospital. This, like a few other flashbacks, added nothing to the story whatsoever. I was also annoyed by the characters, who (except for Mia and Adam) seemed very one-dimensional and stereotypical, like Mia’s parents.

My main problem with the novel, though, was that, too me, it was lacking feeling. This surprised me, as lots of others say they bawled while reading this novel and it’s usually pretty easy to get me to cry. The concept was sad, but for some reason I didn’t feel much of anything and didn’t shed a tear. The writing even seemed matter-of-fact at times – Mia isn’t affected at all by her parents’ death, she only states she figured out they didn’t survive. It just wasn’t fleshed-out enough for me, and I wasn’t drawn into Mia’s character, so that by the end of the novel I didn’t really care whether she stayed or died. The ending confused me more than anything – I didn’t understand what message Gayle Forman was trying to convey, and it didn’t feel uplifting to me, which many others have called it.

On a brighter note, I did enjoy the cute love story between Mia and Adam. I also liked the references to music and how the author used their different tastes in music to explain Mia’s feeling if not belonging into her family and Mia’s character in general.

I really wanted to like this novel and I feel bad about giving it only two stars, but there wasn’t enough substance or emotion for me. But since Gayle Forman achieved to move many people, she must have done something right, and I won’t say it’s a bad book. Maybe it just didn’t speak to me personally.


  1. I liked this book and I understand what you're saying...I did think that at one stage.

    I also loved the love between Adam and Mia. It wasn't over the top but wasn't understated :)
    Good review.

  2. great review and this book one of my favorite YA drama, make me cry :'(


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