Friday, April 15, 2011

[Re-Review] If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I thought to celebrate the release of Where She Went (in stores now!), I'd re-review If I Stay, which I've only ever reviewed one before, and I believe that was on Goodreads. My review for Where She Went goes live same time tomorrow. I'm sorry--I kind of went nuts and just kept on typing, so I think just this review alone is 500 words.

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 09/04/09 (HB); 10/04/10 (PB)
Publisher: Dutton (HB); Penguin Speak (PB)
Source: Bought (HB); Won (PB)
Age: 14+ mild language, violence and sexual scenes
Pages: 230

My Rating:

"Mia has no memory of the accident that changed her life. This inexperienced 17-year-old only recalls riding on that slippery Oregon road with her family, then, in an instant, seeing herself lifted from the twisted wreck. This affecting story of one young woman's struggle through tragedy and grieving will appeal to readers of books like Thirteen Reasons Why."
"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."
My thoughts: 


Everyone said it was because of the snow.

In Oregon, the unthinkable happens: it snows. An innocent family trip to visit grandparents is cut to a halting stop when a 3-tonne truck rams through the family car's driver's side. Now orphaned musical-prodigy cellist Mia will have to make a choice: will she stay, or will she go? How can she even possibly think of leaving her family behind?

Wow. It's hard to write some form of a synopsis for this book. Without giving anything away. Anyway, you're not reading this for the synopsis, you want to get some dirt on this book right? Well I have only good things to say.

Seriously? Even after 3 reads of this book it hasn't lost a bit of its charm, and the only reason it might have is because we know there is a second book and therefore to the question "Does she Stay", the answer leans to a "yes". Still, the little moments and the chilling silences cut through me like a razor. I don't think that effect will ever be diminished.

The story is unconventional and formatted in unique 24-hour timeframe fashion. I love it. There's just something about the setting and situations that compel me time and time again to sit and read this book, even when I have other books that I must get to. If I Stay has a strange mystique about it that just drives the book. I appreciate the flashbacks, because they provide a sort of intermission between hospital scenes, all exhausting in and of themselves. Unlike many other dead people contemporary books, the tragedy that befalls this family is so innocent that it makes everything that happens later on that much harder to swallow and comprehend. I love the congruence that is shared among the family at the beginning. It's just all very well constructed.

Well, the characters . . . . I can't say too much without giving the book away, because much of this book is strung along because of the strong cast of characters that Forman has created. They're like real characters, and the good thing about books is that you're able to imagine what the characters look like for yourself. Mia is honest and passionate and a great narrator and protagonist. Her life rests on music and her cello, and with that, her family and Adam and Kim. Adam is so, so sweet in If I Stay that it's pretty shocking to see what he becomes in Where She Went. Anyway, there's so much room for fleshing out of the characters, even with 230 pages these characters held real emotion to their names. They weren't just names on a page.

I remember in my first reading I thought the writing was perfect. It is, but certainly not in the way I first thought. It reflects the mood of the book perfectly. It's brutally honest and easy to read but also hard to read. It's poetic, but only in its simplicity and quiet temper.

Before you dismiss If I Stay is just a sappy contemporary read, there ARE funny parts. There's the unique and freaky sex scene between Adam and Mia, Adam jumping through hoops to look at Mia in the ER . . . . Through all my readings, I've only ever cried through two parts of the book. Every single time. All the rest of the time during, I share my thoughts and feelings with Mia as she explores her memories and sees what is happening in her comatose state.

Love it, read it. If you didn't read it before Where She Went, then you're a wee bit silly. It doesn't matter that there is a second book. This book will still be able to be amazing and an all around powerful, emotional read. Gayle Forman is a force to be reckoned with, with a writing prowess that cannot be touched.

You know what? I haven't heard much about Gayle Forman's other, earlier books. Anyone read any?


First Line
"Everyone said it was because of the snow."

Favourite Quotes:

Too many spoilers! Every one of my favourites are spoilery. Censored haha.


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I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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