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If I Stay – Gayle Forman

The Blurb:

“Just listen,” Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.

“Stay,” he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones. Stay true to her first love – music – even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family behind?

Then, one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.

The Review:

How many people told me I’d cry during this book? How many people did I laugh and scoff at, since all the reviews had pretty much given away most of the events of the book to me?

A lot, that’s how many.

Well, whaddaya know? I cried like a baby. A very loud, boisterous, amusing little baby. And then I gave it to five other people and made them cry really hard too.

This is technically less of a review than an amalgamate of the discussions I had with my book club, so bear with me. If you just want to know how much I loved it, skip to the rating at the end.

There’s two main messages to take from this book – one was the ultimate choice that Mia has to make. To stay, or to go. I hope none of us have to make that sort of a choice, but everyone in the world has made a smaller version of this choice. What do you do when you lose everything? Do you give up? Do you take the easy way out? Or are you brave enough to pick up the pieces and fight on? It’s one of the hardest things to answer in the world… and there’s no real way to answer it until you’ve been through it. Do I know for certain what I would choose if I were Mia? Not at all. I can say one thing now, but really, my life, my mind, my everything is really different from Mia’s.

Last year, J.K. Rowling gave a fantastic commencement speech at Harvard that I keep up on my wall as a daily reminder of where I’m going. And one of my favorite things that she said that day was this: “Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.” That is the total truth. Because no matter how careful your plans, how elaborately you lay out every aspect of where you’re going, things will not go as you expect. And the ability to pick up the pieces of your broken dreams and walk on is the only ability that will matter in the long run.

The second most important thing to take from the book is slightly less depressing – and that is love. I was so glad to see that Mia’s parents understand the fact that teenage love is not just puppy love, or whatever other term grown-ups use to demean and belittle it. I’ve always been of the firm belief that you will never love as intensely as you love while you’re a teenager. It’s a love pure of all the ugly grown-up things that pressure a relationship, like bills and children and extended family. You’re young, there’s still a little bit of the idealist in you, and there’s nothing but you and him/her.

That’s not to say that grownups love each other any less. In fact, sure, it’s probably a more practical and long-lasting love when you know what you’re in for… or if you agree to learn together along the way. I’m just saying… young love is way more intense than most people seem to believe it is.

And on the same wavelength as that kind of love, let’s talk a little bit about family. You know all those jokes about how family

So… yeah… that’s what I had to say about that.

I adore this book. Thank you A MILLION TIMES OVER to the fabulous Steph Su who sent this to me as part of her promoting Teen Literature campaign/contest. I really hope Hollywood doesn’t screw this one up!

The Rating: 5-crowns

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