Tuesday 31 August 2010

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

Product details:
Publisher: Black Swan.
Paperback, 272 pages.
Release date: April 22nd 2010 (first published 2009)
Ages: 14+
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

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 heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

This is a simply beautiful book, and it is beautiful in it’s simplicity. Apart from the multitude of five-starred reviews I’d seen for If I Stay, I didn’t actually know much about the book or the direction the story would take before I read it, and I think that’s the best way to be where this one is concerned. I had no expectations at all when I started If I Stay, and I was pretty much blown away by the intensity of the storyline, and by Forman’s writing. In short, I loved this. Gayle Forman has written something pretty special here - raw, powerful, emotional and real, this is a life-affirming book, and one everyone should read. It will bring you down, lift you up, make you cry and stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

We are introduced to seventeen year old Mia as she sits down to breakfast with her family one morning. She has very cool parents, an adorable little brother called Teddy, and an exciting future ahead as she ponders her entry into college, and what that might mean for her relationship with long-term boyfriend, Adam. It’s a day like any other save for the fact that snow has fallen overnight, and Mia and Teddy now have an unexpected day off from school. To make the most of this, the family decide to make a fun day trip, visit some old friends, and stop off at a favourite used book store on the way back home. But that never happens, because there’s an accident…

In these opening pages, Forman lulls the reader into a false sense of security, and the shock, when it comes, is profound. In describing the accident, and it’s aftermath, Forman’s writing is gritty, real and unsettling. She invites you into Mia’s world through a series of flashbacks, in which present day Mia, now in a coma and fighting for her life in hospital reflects on the significant events in her life. While she still has a lot of lot to live for, she knows that her life will never be the same again if she decides to stay. This book takes you on a journey with Mia as she struggles to make her decision.

I thought everything about this book was pretty much perfect.  Forman writes wonderful characters, and I can honestly say that by the end of the book I cared about each and every one of them. I also loved the use of music throughout the book Mia is a gifted musician, her boyfriend Adam is in an upcoming band, and I loved reading about how their relationship evolved through music. Personally I love music just as much as I love to read, so I could totally relate to that aspect of the book. I loved the relationship between these two, and also that between Mia and her best friend Kim. All the relationships in this book were very real, and were a joy to read.

I think everyone who reads this book will be affected by it in some way. It’s a quick read, but oh so powerful. I was in tears by the end of the book, and shed even more tears when I read that this story was inspired by real life events. I should also point out that I rarely, if ever, cry at books, so this one had a pretty powerful effect. This is definitely up there with some of my favourite books of all time, and  I eagerly await it’s sequel, Where She Went in 2011.


  1. What a great review, I have this one on my Wishlist but I am starting to reconsider YA books so this one will stay for sure.

  2. Great review. While it's not a favorite book of mine, I still really liked it and am looking forward to its sequel as well!

  3. I love this review- it's so well-written and thoughtful! This book is a favorite of mine as well. I was left teary-eyed in the last two or three pages! I cannot wait to read Where She Went :)

  4. I really need to pick this one up-I was thinking about buying it the other day but I didn't. My mistake :(

    Anyways, lovely review!

  5. One of my favourite novels. Glad you loved it as much as I did. :)

  6. I agree with everything you said. Such a beautiful book. I can't wait to read the sequel.

  7. Fantastic review, I agree with everything you said about the book, it really was a stunning book!

  8. Great review! I love this book as well. It took me by surprise. It was so powerful. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I can't wait for the sequel either!

  9. Oh, I can't tell you how much I want to read this book. I've seen this around so many times and for some reason have always been reluctant to pick it up. Your review has just convinced me to make an effort to get this book! Wonderful review Leanna!

  10. I loved this book. Even though it's more for teenagers I thought it was a good book. I have reviewed this book on my blog .... www.atbookends.blogspot.com feel free to check it out xx


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