If I Stay


Photo provided by amazon.com.

By Marie Bourke, Senior Assistant Editor

Mia’s happy, carefree family goes out to visit a friend’s house one morning but in a split second they are all thrown from the car as it collided with another on the highway.

This is the opening to the book If I Stay.

Mia stands on the side of the road and sees her parents’ gruesome, lifeless bodies. When she walks over to what she thinks is her brother Teddy’s body, it is her own.

Before she can even process what just happened, the ambulance comes to take her to the hospital. She follows her body.

This opening was a little bit shocking, even though the plot is given in the summary on the cover flap. Such a pivotal event isn’t typical for the beginning of a book, so it made it unique – I wanted to read on.

While her machine-supported body lies in the hospital, Mia recounts on her past and what her future would be if she were to live.

The book is split up into times throughout the day to function as chapters. Each chapter starts with what is currently going on in the hospital at the specific time and then the second section is Mia’s past memories. The memories are what help her make the big decision: to stay or leave.

She recounts on her two loves in life. Music and her boyfriend, Adam. She could have the opportunity to go to Juilliard in the fall for cello. She also doesn’t want to have to leave her rockstar boyfriend who has started his own band in their hometown of Portland, Oregon.

These being the main priorities in Mia’s life was very relatable for teens who might have something like a sport or activity that takes up a lot of their free time along with close friends or a boyfriend.

Along with her memories, visits from loved ones help guide Mia’s decision. Though relatives only see her in a coma, she can listen to her grandparents say they understand why she would want to escape her life of loss, but it would be easier on them if she came back to them. Adam and Mia’s best friend Kim also talk to her and show how much they care about her, making Mia more unsure of what to do.

The combination of memories and what is going on in the moment was a creative way to split the book up. It made an easy flow to the reading and gave cute and funny background stories the book needed for its heavy topic.

The book was a solid quick read, yet ended on a note of uncertainty. It was enjoyable to share Mia’s happy times in life as well as sad times but something was missing. It would be nice to have a solid conclusion on her decision.

In the end, Mia must make the choice whether to live as an orphan the rest of her life, with vivid memories of this tragedy or to slip away from her life and the family and friends she has left.

Grade: B

Read the book before the movie release August 22, 2014


If I Stay

By Gayle Forman

320 pp. Penguin Young Readers Group. $6.10