Book Review | If I Stay by Gayle Forman

3/5 stars

For 17 year old Mia, her future is dependent on her decisions. She can either stay behind to be with her boyfriend Adam, and her family, or she can go to Juilliard to further her cello studies. As both Adam and Mia have bright futures ahead of them, the choice she has to make becomes harder and harder. It isn’t long before their relationship starts to get strained.

Then one February morning, while Mia and her family are out for a drive, everything changes. There aren’t any decisions for her to make, except for one, the only one that truly counts for anything.

In this insightful novel, Gayle Forman weaves a tale about love and sorrow, and life and death.

Let me start off by saying that this book was completely not what I was expecting. The only reason that I picked up this book was because I heard that there was a cellist in it. I’m always interested with novels with cellists, because it is rare to find, and I have been playing cello since the age five. So naturally, I had to read it.

The only thing that I vaguely knew about this novel was that Mia had to make a decision on whether to go to Juilliard or not. Imagine my surprise when (this is a slight spoiler, but you find out after like the first chapter so) it turns out that the decision that she’s making in the novel isn’t Juilliard.. It’s about dying or living.

After reading a couple book reviews on GoodReads, I’m aware that many people weren’t very impressed with the format it was in. If I Stay is kind of bits and pieces of stories pulled into one novel, and I very much enjoyed that. There wasn’t really a plot line, besides the decision that she was making, but for some reason I like that a lot.

The whole novel is in Mia’s perspective, which I didn’t mind. She wasn’t really my favorite character, but there wasn’t anything that I truly disliked about her. There was a lot of emphasis put on her that she wasn’t “normal” and was “set a part” from other kids, even though she seemed like an average kid to me. But isn’t that how everyone is? We all think that there isn’t anyone that truly understands you, and maybe that’s because it’s true.

However, the rest of the characters I didn’t really enjoy, besides Mia’s grandpa. He was the best. Only his few lines of dialogue were the ones that actually made me feel something. Her parents… They didn’t seem to have dimension to them at all. They seemed to just have one persona; her mom was the bad bitch who didn’t care what people thought, and her dad was the rock star turned to scholarly dad. Her brother also, we didn’t really get to know him well.

If you are someone who doesn’t like cheesy romance, I wouldn’t suggest picking up this book. There’s a lot of moments between Adam and Mia that made me laugh almost, while reading them. It wasn’t that they were too sexual or anything, it was just weird… however, I’m not the most romantic person, so perhaps others will enjoy them!

I have to say though, I think my favorite part of this novel was the connection that Mia had with her cello, and music. I identify with that so much, and it was very refreshing to read.

Overall I think that it was very well written, and Gayle Forman has a very calming writing style that flows through the pages. I recommend this as a quick read; you’ll definitely be preoccupied.

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