Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Title: If I StayImage

Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: contemporary YA/thriller

Length: 210 pages

Publisher: Dutton Penguin

Source: my school library!


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.


I was pleasantly surprised by If I Stay. In fact I wasn’t supposed to read it this early at all – you guys voted for me to read This Song Will Save Your Life, but I’ll admit it, I got distracted by this one! It’s a really quick read and I really enjoyed it.

(also, this cover is awesome. The one I got from my school library is lovely as well.)

Basically the premise is that she’s in a car accident and her parents don’t make it out alive. The main character, Mia, watches herself in a sort of out-of-body experience, like a ghost. She goes through a bit of a recount of what’s happened in her life recently, and the question it: should she stay? Or should she let go?

The questions raised in this book were very powerful. It was emotional towards the end, but mostly I enjoyed Mia’s character, and how funny she was sometimes.

Other things I loved: 

– Mia plays cello

– Parents not only exist but are supportive of Mia and distinct characters in their own right

– The author did their research on the medical stuff

– Great tension!

I have complaints, though (here she goes, you say). I didn’t find it heartbreaking or devastating, or at least not the way it was written. Yes, the events are, but I didn’t…feel…much? Maybe that’s just me, though. Also, there was a lot of telling. The recounts of her memories sometimes felt forced.

Another complaint I have: her grandma didn’t seem like a real person. She believes in angels, but this was never really brought up except in a vague, tell-y way. I couldn’t imagine it.

That said, it was a lovely story, and I liked that it didn’t get too preachy. For some reason I really loved the medical descriptions of all the things wrong with Mia. I loved seeing how she overcame them and how kind the nurses were. I have to admit that her grandfather made me the most emotional out of all the characters – his reactions were real and honest.

Now I have to go and find the next book, although I have no idea what will happen now!

My rating: four wonderkitties


18 thoughts on “Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  1. Mm, sounds like something I would happily swallow. GO THE CELLOS. I’m not the biggest fan of paranormal/ghost sort of stories, but I did like “The Catastrophic History of You and Me” which was kind of an out of body experience. *wanders off to Goodreads*

  2. I just read this a couple of weeks ago and I’m still thinking about how to rate it. I do agree with you about not really feeling much. I think it dealt with some highly emotional situations in a detached sort of way (unless it was the mood I was in when I read it). I thought the writing was great though and I liked the medical stuff too! It gave it authenticity.

    • It’s hard, isn’t it? While I could objectively see many things wrong with it, I still really liked it even though I didn’t feel much. But yeah, might have just been the mood. When I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the second time, it affected me a lot greater.

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed this one (: I read this one awhile back but I honestly don’t remember much about it. Lol your review acted as a nice refresher. The book was quite engrossing for me I believe and I’m happy it was a nice quick read for you as well. I definitely did enjoy that Mia’s parents weren’t non-existent like other parents in YA. Nice review Emily 🙂

  4. I read this book but for some reason I couldn’t really get into it as much. It seemed a bit young or something with the writing. Also reminded me of The Lovely Bones (which I absolutely hated). Great review Emily! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  5. I agree, Emily. This was such a brilliant novel and I got really teary every now and again. YAY for present parents!

    • It’s definitely a personal thing. I cried at the end of The Fault in Our Stars, but that’s VERY rare for me. I know people who never cry in books but a sad movie and BAM. It annoys me when people say you’re “heartless” for not crying at a particular book!

  6. I read this book recently too just because it was a quick read, but I agree, it was emotional, but not to me hugely. I admit, I’m a feeler, but this could have had me in full blown tears and I didn’t, which was a little disppointing; still, a fantastic book though 🙂 Great review Emily!

  7. Pingback: What Happened This Week: Reading again, Monologues and Cycling | The Loony Teen Writer

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