If I Stay by Gayle Forman is one of those books that The Wall Street Journal wrecked for me last year by writing about the ending without giving a spoiler alert, so I put off reading it. I finally gave in. And I'm happy I did!
On a day that started like any other...
Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left--the most important decision she'll ever make.
Mia's narration, as she watches friends and family respond to the tragedy, is reminiscent of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, which is to say it is poignant and absolutely heartbreaking. However, there's a touch of humor and hope as Mia flashes back to memories of her parents, her boyfriend Adam, best friend Kim, and playing the cello.
As I was reading this novel, I remember thinking it was too short. How could Mia reach such a crucial decision in so few pages? But the length of the book was yet another indicator of just how fast things can change. And it made me appreciate the writing abilities of Gayle Forman even more. Words weren't wasted on irrelevant details. Every mood, smell, and sound was captured perfectly. Even better, the characters were real, vivid, and carefully developed.
I'm glad I didn't let the poor choice of a journalist keep me from reading If I Stay. Mia's story will stay with me for a long time.
According to Gayle's blog, Where She Went, a sequel that takes place three years later and is told through Adam's point of view, is scheduled for publication in spring of 2011.
For more information on Gayle Forman, visit: