Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
If I Stay
Gayle Forman
Series: If I Stay #1
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: April 2nd 2009
by Dutton Juvenile

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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.



A powerfully emotional novel, If I Stay is a journey through life and death, in the eyes of a young girl who has lost just about everything.

After a disastrous car accident, Mia finds herself looking down at her own battered body, barely alive. This is one case where, immediately, you get a feel of who these people are, their realness, the love they have for each other. With only a few minutes of getting to know them before the accident, I already felt a connection with Mia and her whole family, turning an already emotional novel into a gutting one. Mia’s loss and grief is tangible through Gayle’s effortless writing style. It’s a tragic tale of unimaginable life changing loss that will make you thankful for everything and everyone you have in life.

This novel is not a story, there is not even a plot per se; in short, it is a chronicle of Mia’s life. While she’s lost in this sort of limbo, we relive her life with her. She sends us through the ups and downs of her past years. Her relationship, fun family anecdotes, talents, dreams, everything she has ever had, and everyone she can still lose. Mostly, you can see how fast a life full of potential can be changed so drastically. You know that even if she does get through this, nothing will ever be the same. She will not be the same person that we’re being introduced to. Through her stories and her time at the hospital, we also get to know other people in her life who love her so fully that you feel their pain for Mia’s uncertain future. What got me the most emotional was not Mia’s reminiscing, but the reactions to others towards her. There’s an especially powerful scene with her grandfather that… ugh *clutches chest*. It shows exactly how talented Gayle is; to be able to render so much sympathy for characters you have only just met, in a book with a mere 200 pages at that, that is some outstanding writing. This is not just Mia’s story, it includes everyone that has touched her life as well.

Brilliantly written with as much love as there is sorrow, with as much life as there is death, If I Stay shows us the importance of family and friends that, together, make up our lives. A must read that I would recommend for all fans of YA contemporary novels such as Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall.

Audiobook note: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the music between certain chapters, but the narrator was truly amazing. Her voice authenticated all the emotions coming off of Mia wonderfully. A+!

Cover Blurb Note: “It will appeal to fans of Twilight” O_O This book is not even close to being anything like Twilight in any way!

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.
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31 Responses to “Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman”

  1. Nick

    I’ve heard so much about this book, but never bothered to read it. It sounds like such a powerful book, Giselle. I will try to get a copy from my library. I love when books make you emotional and sad. That’s a sign of a good book.

    And LOL at the Twilight blurb. I wonder who decided that was a good thing to place on the cover of a YA contemporary!
    *shakes head*

    Anyways, fabulous review, Giselle!

  2. Sirtsu

    Heh, I won’t read your full review, because I have yet to write one for this, but let’s just say that I’m so pissed at myself for not reading this book sooner, I absolutely adored it! “Cover Blurb Note: “It will appeal to fans of Twilight” O_O This book is not even close to being anything like Twilight in any way! ” – hahahaha πŸ˜€ I wanted to include this in my review as well, because it kinda freaked me out. Wtf do they mean by that? The person responsible for this is a moron, for sure :S I mean.. it didn’t have anything to do with Twilight whatsoever and if I didn’t know about the hype and hadn’t considered reading it before then I’d have never bought the book in a bookstore. It’s just plain stupid.

    Anyway, that scene with her grandfather was emotional for me too. I bawled my eyes out while reading it lol. I love that you loved it and I’m so glad you had the time to listen to this one:) yay!!

  3. Smash Attack!

    THIS BOOK! *gasp* I can still remember the emotions. Total overload. I think Where She Went affected me even more because of how If I Stay set the scene…

  4. Hanna Whitehead

    “It will appeal to fans of Twilight.”

    I actually saw that on a copy of Wuthering Heights once. I think that was my biggest WTF moment!

    I actually got this book last week from a swap. I’m almost too scared to read it in case it doesn’t live up to the hype! I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad review of it.

  5. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I hate that blurb! It’s NOTHING like Twilight! USA Today is stupid.

    This story is so beautifully written — I was sucked into Mia’s life and cried right along with her. How cool that there’s music between some of the chapters (esp. since that plays a role in this book).

  6. Christianna Marks

    I remember reading this on a plane and bawling my eyes out in front of complete strangers! I think I might have read it on trains and ferrys as well! I was in Europe. It’s one of my favorites and Where She Went is just as amazing! You need to get your hands on that one as well! Great review and I couldn’t agree more!

  7. Megan K.

    I really need to get cracking on those Gayle Forman books, because – ANOTHER POSITIVE REVIEW FOR IF I STAY! I love that it was a powerful and emotional book for you, Giselle. To me, the best contemporaries are those that leave a lasting impact, and If I Stay sounds like one of those! Bahaha, sometimes pubs just go too far with their marketing schemes. Contemporaries and paranormal novels canNOT be any more different! Lovely review as always, girl!

  8. Christina (Christinareadsya)

    Yeah… the cover blurb. I have no idea why they would want to appeal to Twilight fans, anyway, especially as the books are in separate genres. I’m not a huge fan of audiobooks – I find it hard to concentrate with them, often tune them out – but you make me want to try the audiobook for this one. I loved it in print, and it sounds like it gets even better told aloud. Hmm…

  9. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    It seems I really am heartless. No, seriously. πŸ˜€
    I did like this one back when I read it… ohhh, a million years ago, but honestly, it was just mediocre for me. Yes, I happen to agree that Forman’s writing is absolutely gorgeous, but the book itself didn’t touch me as much as I’d hoped. Maybe my expectations were too high. Then again, I at least liked this one. I hated Before I Fall.

    Ah well, what can you do? I’m glad you enjoyed it.
    Great review!

  10. Amy

    I keep meaning to get this audiobook from my library, but haven’t yet. After reading your review I think I need to move it up my list.

  11. Sapir V

    I really loved this book. It was so heartwarming to read about her life before the accident and about her family. It was really heartbreaking to see how everything ended in a second – how a car crash can ruin such a beautiful thing as a family.
    I’m glad you enjoyed this book and I agree with you that it was very well written!!

    Sapir @ Diary of a Wimpy Teen Girl

  12. Megan Hand

    Great review, Giselle! And I love all these comments. If I Stay has stuck with me since I read it a couple years ago. It is still in my top 10 books, and so is Where She Went. I agree with the comment above that I think Where She Went hit me harder. It went deeper, and I absolutely <3 <3 Adam's voice!! If you haven't read that one, you need to πŸ™‚ And I don't understand the comparison to Twilight. At. All.

  13. Soma Rostam

    Well, Giselle, why do authors agree to put such a cliche on the cover of their book? You can know from the blurb that is definitely NOT a book like Twilight and they have nothing in common.
    Anyway, this sounds like a heart-wrenching book and i am a total fan of that.
    LOVED your review
    Your reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

  14. Alexa Y.

    I read my first Gayle Forman book (Just One Day) earlier this year and loved it. I’ve heard quite a lot about If I Stay/Where She Went, and I’m definitely planning on checking it out soon. Mia’s story sounds absolutely compelling, and I’m so glad you liked it!

  15. Christina

    Yay! You liked it! I wasn’t sure if you would. People mostly seem to love or hate this book and I’ve not figured out the precise logic for who will love it and who won’t. Glad the audio was good. Would have been sad if you hated because the narrator was obnoxious. I’ve had a couple instances of that myself. *kicks audiobooks*

  16. Candace

    It’s so annoying when they put the Twilight stuff on covers of books that are completely different!
    I’m glad you loved this one too. It’s been a few years since I read it and it’s still very much in my mind. Wonderful review!

  17. Asheley (@BookwormAsheley)

    I just read this for the second time – the first time was print, the second time was audiobook while following along in print. While I didn’t love it the first time, I did like it better the second time. The audiobook did help. I agree that the music was a little bit wonky but the second read was better for me – I’m not with the legions of fans that find this book amazing and I did not cry like a lot of people, but I did like it okay. HOWEVER, the second book – Where She Went – is AMAZING. Especially by audiobook. So I **highly** recommend that if you plan on continuing, you continue with the audiobook. The narrator is different – Dan Bittner, a favorite, and Adam’s POV is wonderful.

    It’s always odd to me to love the second book of a two-book set more than the first, but this is one case where I do. Nice review, Giselle!

  18. Mel@Thedailyprophecy

    Haha “let’s up a popular name on the cover” I hate it when books say thinks like “The new x” This book sounds nothing like Twilight: brilliantly written isn’t the first thing that pops in my mind when I think of Twilight. I like the sound of this book and the fact that you can see Mia’s life.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy

  19. A Canadian Girl

    Oh my gosh, Giselle, I can’t believe you hadn’t read this one until now!

    Lol, I had no idea they marketed this towards fans of Twilight. Not only are the two books not even close to being alike, this one is so much better!

  20. Kelsey@TheLostBookReports

    One of my absolute favorite books! It is even included in my Top Ten Tuesday today. However, I truly fell in love with If I Stay when I read Where She Went. I don’t know why.. I just did… I think it just made the whole story complete.

  21. Michaniya

    I wasn’t a big fan of the narrator’s voice for the main character but, Oh My God, the emotion…just amazing. It gave me chills. I probably wouldn’t have liked the book as much if I had read it instead of listening to it. I just don’t think I could have provided the emotions it required.

    And, yes, I completely agree, this not Twilight-esque at all. I hate all the false advertisement crap.

  22. aglowormreads

    This book, ugh. So many feels! I think I literally cried through the whole book after the accident happened. It was so sad for me and I’m already super emotional. I don’t think it’s one I could of listened to though. I had to keep putting it down while reading because it got to be too much at some points. Like the scene with her grandfather and then when her brother.. πŸ™ It’s one of my favourite books though, Gayle is so talented at making you feel for the characters!

    Great review!

  23. Shooting Stars Mag

    Comparing this book to Twilight is kind of laughable…they are vastly different stories. Regardless, I loved If I Stay and I really want to read the companion novel; I just haven’t had the chance to get a copy and read it. If I Stay is wonderful though, as is Gayle Forman in general. πŸ™‚