Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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A little while after I read The Fault in Our Stars and saw the movie, I found out that another heart wrenching novel would be made into a movie. This time, the novel-to-movie adaptation would be Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. A quick search online told me that this book would be sad and hopeful and beautiful and amazing, so I rushed out and bought a copy of it.

This is my review of If I Stay.

Pretty much, this is the story of Mia, a girl who tragically loses her family in a car accident. She also nearly loses her life, which is the focus of the novel. She wakes up after the accident outside of her body, and she watched her remaining family and friends grieve for Mia, her brother, and her parents, all while remembering other events of her life. She spends the entire novel wondering if she should stay alive on Earth, or let herself die to be with her family.

Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed. Maybe it’s because I’m not that big a fan of out-of-body-experience novels, but I don’t know. I read it all at once, but that wasn’t intentional. I had actually planned on reading the book in thirds or maybe even two halves, but nope. I misjudged the actual length of the book. My copy of it had a lot of filler at the end, (interviews, previews of Forman’s other novels, and discussion questions) so the novel itself ended about 100 pages shy of the actual number of pages in the book!!! I remember lying on the couch, confused when I read the (not so spectacular) end.

The characters weren’t too memorable, mainly just Mia, her boyfriend Adam, and a couple of odd friends and family members. Although we only really get to see her family alive for a chapter before the accident, they’re fleshed out through Mia’s flashbacks, which makes her parents seem like the cool parents you’ve always wanted (you know, without the being dead part.) Adam, the boyfriend, is in a band and seems like the complete opposite of Cello-playing Mia (I’m smelling the good-girl/bad-guy trope here…) but he’s completely devoted to her and even tries to sneak in to see her. In the end, he’s with her when she wakes up. 🙂

I was expecting to cry. I was expecting tears like in TFIOS, which had me literally sobbing with a full box of tissues at 2 am. With this book, I finished it around 1 pm on a gloomy day, with completely dry eyes, thinking, “That’s it?”

Yes, that was it.

I personally haven’t seen the movie, but after reading the book, I don’t think I will. I wasn’t impressed at all. I’d give it 2 stars, just because it wasn’t the absolute worst book I’ve ever read. It had a unique plot idea, but it just didn’t resonate well with me.

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