If I Stay – Gayle Forman

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Summary (Amazon): In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

My Review (Spoilers):
Executive Summary: predictable

My sister actually requested this book ages ago, but due to the popularity of the movie, it had about 300 holds on it. So months later, I finally got to read it. And, I was kind of disappointed.

The book was well written, but it didn’t grab/keep my attention. And, like most young adult books, it was hopelessly predictable.

Mia Hall, a 17 year old senior in high school is with her family (mom, dad, and younger brother Teddy) as they are driving to their grandparents’ on a snow day that never was fully realized. Mia’s father is a rocker-turned-school teacher, and her mom is a strong willed feminist. Mia, on the other hand is a soft-spoken cellist who has recently applied to Juilliard.

En route to her grandparents’, their car is hit by another driver causing her mother and father to die instantly. Mia is taken to the hospital via life flight. However, her soul/spirit/consciousness is separate from her body so that she can view the whole situation in a sort of third-person way. (Therefore, when I refer to Mia from now on, I won’t be referring to the body.)

She takes the trip via the helicopter, reminiscing about her best friend Kim who had a bad experience in her first helicopter trip. Mia wonders about her grandparents who are expecting them, and about her boyfriend, Adam, and how he will even find out about the accident. Adam is a musician too, but he’s a rock musician. He graduated the previous year, and his band, Shooting Star, is just taking off. They have had some tension between them lately because Mia’s application to Juilliard is looking promising, but his career is taking off on the west coast. They’re doing their best, but neither wants to compromise their dreams and a wedge is growing between them.

Mia arrives at the hospital and enters surgery. Her extended family arrives, presumably called by one of her parents’ friends who is a nurse. Her grandparents come in to see her and one of the nurses tells them that it’s now up to Mia. Mia has the choice whether she will live or whether she will die. If she lives, she’s going to be an orphan. But if she dies, will it be worth it?

Her friend Kim then arrives. Eventually Mia realizes that she has no idea what happened to Teddy, but eventually seeing the nurse friend tending to her, and all the people in her waiting room, she assumes that Teddy has also died.

Kim leaves and then returns with Adam. Unfortunately he’s not family, and as teenagers are wont to do, he doesn’t go speak to Mia’s grandparents about getting access to her. Instead, he somehow coerces the lead singer of the band who his band is supposed to be opening for to come in and cause a distraction. (She’s some sort of a celebrity apparently). He gets in to see her briefly but is obviously caught and taken to the security office with Kim. Willow (the family friend nurse) comes in and saves them and eventually gets Adam to be able to see her. He holds her hands and tells her, “Don’t make me write a song.” (implying that he doesn’t want her to die) and then he abruptly leaves.

Throughout all this, Mia is going over stories from her past. Stories of her family, stories about Adam. Kim comes in to see her, and tells her everything that has been going on and tells her that she still has a family.

Eventually Adam returns. He tells her to stay. He’s emotional and tells her that if she stays, they will make it work. He will quit the band and move to New York or do whatever Mia needs. Just as long as she stays. And then he puts headphones on her that are playing Yo-Yo Ma, the cellist they went to see on their very first date. And suddenly Mia begins looking toward the future–Juilliard, Adam, and she returns into her body and squeezes his hand. She decides to stay.

Verdict: 3 stars

How does someone who has their entire family ripped from them in just a second remain so calm? Never once does Mia ever get angry and pose the “Why, me?” question that seems fully appropriate in this situation. It just seems a bit unrealistic that a girl at one of the most emotional times in her life (trying to get into college/graduating from high school) in one of the most emotional situations that can be imagined remains SO CALM. THE WHOLE TIME. I enjoyed the premise of the book, but it just remained really flat for me. I also totally missed the metaphor that when they were playing each other like instruments, they were actually having sex. I really thought they were just being weird. But building on that point, I would think that Mia would return to memories of having sex with Adam throughout all of her flashbacks (again, she’s a teenager!) but she doesn’t. There was just that one memory about it. There wasn’t even much kissing. Anyway, I probably won’t see the movie, but if I do, I’ll compare. And there’s an even slimmer chance I’ll read the sequel.

 

 

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2 Comments

Filed under 3 stars, Book Review

2 responses to “If I Stay – Gayle Forman

  1. I wasn’t too impressed by this book either. Haha, I have been wondering why everyone so suddenly read this book now…but of course it because of the movie (that I hadn’t heard of before XD)

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