If I Stay by Gayle Forman | Rating: ★★★★★
"It's okay,' he tells me. 'If you want to go. Everyone wants you to stay. I want you to stay more than I've ever wanted anything in my life.' His voice cracks with emotion. He stops, clears his throat, takes a breath, and continues. 'But that's what I want and I could see why it might not be what you want. So I just wanted to tell you that I understand if you go. It's okay if you have to leave us. It's okay if you want to stop fighting."
Every now and then, there comes a young adult novel that becomes beloved by people of all ages. If I Stay is certainly one of those books that captured the hearts — and tears — of its target audience and more. With If I Stay we see that sometimes the hype of a book is really, really worth it and I promise you, you’ll feel something by the final pages.
Whether that feeling is love or heartbreak or both.
Gayle Forman captures the feeling of loss incredibly and spins it into a unique story that shows us one girls struggle between life and death. Although the story is absolutely tragic, the way Gayle tells it is unique and inspiring: something about Mia’s story will make you truly think. It’ll touch your heart and make you wonder: is this what it’s like in near death experiences, for some people?
When you lose something, and are severely damaged yourself, do we have a choice in the matter when it comes to if we stay or go? And can you really recover, mentally, from something like losing your entire family?
If I Stay reminds us that everyday is a gift and that even on days that start out like any other, in the blink of an eye, you could lose almost everything. And that in these events, not only do we have a sense of community/family when it comes to those left behind, it leaves a mark on everyone.
It ties people together.
With a backstory that emphasizes on the love of family, friends and romance just as much as it does tell us of Mia coming to age, we feel for Mia Hall and all she loses on this fateful day. Nothing at the start of her family’s day gives them any hint of the events that follow; the accident that takes away her mother, father and younger brother. And the way in which the past is told while Mia fights for her life, we feel the tears come on hard.
Some of the saddest parts include the flashes we see of Mia’s family before the accident, Adam’s song and the moment Mia realizes she has lost not only both parents, but Teddy as well. Her struggle, her sorrow, is real and raw and so terribly emotional I don’t think you can read this one without a box of tissues on hand. I ruined my makeup during my first read of this book and I expect that is very common.
I have to admit that this book moved me in a way that books haven’t in a long time. In a way, it did remind me of a Lurlene McDaniel book: only with more substance to it and told in a style that was reminiscent (almost) of The Lovely Bones’ narration. This story, this book, is incredibly special and lovely and fun and heartbreaking all tied up in one quick, but satisfying, read.
I would recommend it to anyone. Everyone. Literally all of you.
Go pick up a copy today.