If I StayTitle: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
ISBN: 9780525421030
Pages: 199 pages
Publisher: Dutton Books, c2009.

You wouldn’t expect the radio to work afterward. But it does.
The car is eviscerated. The impact of a four-ton pickup truck going sixty miles an hour plowing straight into the passenger side had the force of an atom bomb. It tore off the doors, sent the front-side passenger seat through the driver’s-side window. It flipped the chassis, bouncing it across the road and ripped the engine apart as if it were no stronger than a spiderweb. It tossed wheels and hubcaps deep into the forest. It ignited bits of the gas tank, so that now tiny flames lap at the wet road. (13)

This is the first major occurrance in Gayle Forman’s If I Stay. Seventeen-year-old Mia loses her father, mother, and younger brother in a tragic car accident. Her spirit observes her doctors, nurses, boy friend, and extended family encouraging her to live. But Mia isn’t sure she wants to wake up from her coma, when no one is left, and she’s forced to choose. Get ready for a good cry as she debates what makes life really worth living.

I loved, loved, this book. I’m not normally one for reading sad books, but this was amazing. Gayle Forman writes beautifully, and her prose is riveting. It captures your attention, pulls you in, and holds you hostage. There are going to be inevitable comparisons between this book and something like Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold or the writings of Lurlene McDaniel, but this book is so much more textured. Amazingly presented in flashback style, Mia’s reminesces of times past definitely make the text, and her family, come alive, and prevent the story from becoming trite or stale. The musician background of her entire family and her boyfriend add depth. Finally, Gayle intersperses the tense drama with a sarcastic wit, providing a break from the heart wrenching tragedy and choices that are unfolding in front of them. As these teens deal with something that no one could imagine dealing with, readers find themselves wondering what they would do when placed in not only Mia’s position, but also everyone elses’ position. This is a book that packs a punch and will stick with you a long time after reading.

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