“In a single moment, everything changes. 17-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…”
Swayed by several tempting reviews and at my best friend’s persistent urging, I picked up a copy of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay with high expectations that were mostly met.
Perhaps what I enjoyed most about this novel was the tight-knit family at the heart of it. Setting aside the fact that Mia loses them for the moment, I cannot easily call to mind another YA title in which both parents are a constant, positive presence in the protagonist’s life. That for seventeen years Mia’s parents were involved in her life and choices; that they supported and challenged her was refreshing. The same can be said of Mia’s appreciation of them. Speaking in terms of relatablity that type of parent-child relationship is a closer representation of my childhood, and seems to be one not often found in YA lit. Mia’s understated grief struck me all the harder because of that closeness, and made her choice seem an impossible one; I cannot begin to imagine the strength it took to make it. For that reason and several more, I was invested in Mia and her story, and that overcame any reservation I might have had regarding other aspects of the novel.
I’m somewhat hesitant to pick up the sequel, because as Angie mentioned in her review of this title the ending is quietly affecting, so well-done as to be pretty much perfect. And as much as I liked Adam, I never truly felt the need for more of him in If I Stay. I wanted Mia playing her cello, remembering the nights she spent reading her little brother Teddy another chapter from Harry Potter, or listening to her parents talk about their rebel-rousing pasts and fashion sense. I will pick up Where She Went someday and remain happy to have read this one until then.
“I’ve had disappointments and I’ve been lonely and frustrated and angry and all that crappy stuff everyone feels. But in terms of heartbreak, I’ve been spared. I’ve never toughened up enough to handle what I’d have to handle if I were to stay.”