REVIEW: If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My rating: 

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 and friends 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.

If I stay. If I live. It's up to me.

Firstly, I would have to say that this book has so many kids of love in it: love for a significant other, love for family, love for friends, and love for whatever it is you like doing (which in Mia's case, was playing the cello). This book is overflowing with so much love - it's contagious. I wanna feel love too.

After the movie came out, I decided to reread If I stay. For some reason, the first time I read it, I wasn't as moved by it as Where She Went. I felt Adam's POV was more heartbreaking and beautiful than Mia's. But after this reread, it felt different. The whole book felt different to me. It felt more alive now that I was able to put faces on the characters. I could clearly see Mia, Adam, Kim, Mia's family, their friends and everyone else around them, and somehow, that changed the way I felt about this book.

I like vividness when I read. I like seeing things in my head (as weird as that might sound). I like imagining things happening as I'm reading it, and with this book, it became really easy. Rereading it, felt more like I was reading my diary. Reading my thoughts rather than Mia's. It was like a memory. My memory and it was damn beautiful.


It was a snowy morning when Mia's life changed forever. It was supposed to be just an innocent road trip, but suddenly, it turned into a tragedy.

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 atomic bomb.

Her family got into an accident. After the crash, Mia was still conscious of what was happening around her - only she wasn't conscious inside her body.

I edge closer and now I know that it's not Teddy lying there. It was me. The blood from my chest seeped through my shirt, skirt, and sweater, and is now pooling like paint drops on the virgin snow.

She couldn't believe she wasn't where she needs to be - inside her body. She was scared, but she followed her body that's being taken to the hospital. She had to figure out what was going on, where her parents and brother were, and how to get back inside her body.

Am I dead?

I actually have to ask myself this.

Am I dead?

Like every normal human being, Mia freaked out, seeing that her body was unmoving and still, while she was there staring at it. She was lost, confused, and afraid. She had no clue what was happening to her and why she got out of her body. She was there, but no one could see her. She also wondered, if her parents and Teddy was feeling the same way as she did.

Everyone she loved and care about was at the hospital. Her grand parents. Her best friend, Kim. Her parents' friends, Willow and Henry. And then, there was Adam.

She walked around the hospital, seeking answers to her questions about where her parents and brother were. After a while, she found out that they have already passed on. They all left her, which led her to think was there still anything to live for? Was there anything that would make her want to stay> Now that her parents and brother were gone, was there still anything else to make her want to stay?

Mom and Dad are gone. This morning I went for a drive with my family. And now I am here, as alone as I've ever been. I am seventeen years old, this is not how it's supposed to be. This is not how my life is supposed to turn out. In the quiet corner of the ICU, I start to really think about the bitter things I've managed to ignore so far today. What would it be like if I stay? What would it feel like to wake up an orphan? To never smell Dad smoke a pipe? To never stand next to Mom quietly talking as we do the dishes? To never read Teddy another chapter of Harry Potter? To stay without them?

It would be so easy for her to let go of life, now that her family's gone. Her grandfather wanted her to choose what she wants to choose, that would not beg her to stay, even if he wanted her to. He understood that it would be easier for her to just let go now that her family wouldn't be there when she wakes up. Although, it was hard for him, he was willing to let her go. But... there's still Adam.

"If you stay, I'll do whatever you want. I'll quit the band, go with you to New York. But if you need me to go away, I can do that, too. I was talking to Liz and she said maybe coming back to your old life would just be too painful, that maybe it would be easier for you to erase us. And that would suck, but I'd do it. I can lose you like that, if I don't lose you today. I'll let you go, if you stay.

THIS FUCKING LINE FROM ADAM MAKES ME CRY EVERY FRIGGIN TIME!!! My shirt's soaked again with tears!! I'm not kidding.

But in the end, it would still be Mia's decision. Will she stay, or will she go?


Mia: What's not to love about Mia? When I first read it, I already liked her. But reading her the second time, made me love her more. She was such a loving sister and daughter. She loved her family so much, even though sometimes, she felt that she doesn't belong.

Dad Sometimes joked that the hospital where I was born must have accidentally swapped babies because I look nothing like the rest of my family. They wer all blond and fair and I'm like their negative image, brown hair and dark eyes.

But as I got older, Dad's hospital joke took on a more meaning than I think he intended. Sometimes I did feel like I came from a different tribe. I was not like my outgoing, ironic dad or my tough-chick mom. And as if to seal the deal, instead of learning to play electric guitar, I'd gone and chose the cello.

Another thing I love about Mia, was her passion for playing the cello. Although, she and her parents don't share the same love for the same musical instrument, the love for music was still there. She pours out her heart and soul when she plays, and Adam saw that too.

Mia was shy. She wasn't into fights, but that thing on how she and Kim became friends was pretty hilarious. She lacked confidence, when she clearly shouldn't. Adam brought her out of her shell. Most of the time, she was insecure because Adam was getting a lot of attention from his femake fans. I think it's a valid concern actually, but she shouldn't worry, because Adam was madly, crazy in love with her. She didn;t like going to any of Adam's gigs because of that, but when her mom encouragedher to give his world a try... She started to enjoy it.

Adam: What's not to love about Adam? Seriously. He wasn't perfect, but he sure was pretty damn close to it. Like Mia, I loved his passion for music. It was like, his music was an extension of who he is. He says he doesn't like writing songs that makes him happy and I could tell why. Deeper emotions are let out when you're sad, depressed, or almost at the brink of breaking down. And Adam, liked to write when he is on that state, because that's when all his emotions come out. It comes out and it becomes something that other people could relate to, not just him.

Adam didn't have a good family. Unlike Mia's, his was nonexistent. I liked that he fit perfectly with Mia's family. He knew how to migle with them. He was respectful. He was sincere. And he was polite. He was a musician. He was good with kids, He was liked by parents. And he loves deeply, like with his music.

"This is the you I like. You definitely dressed sexier and you are, you know, blond, and that's different. But the who you are tonight is the same you I was in love with yesterday, the same you I'll be in love with tomorrow. I love that you're fragile and tough, quiet and kick-ass. Hell, you're one of the punkest girls I know, no matter who you listen to and what you wear."

Like I said, what's not to love about Adam?

Again, Adam was not perfect, and I liked that. He wasn't the typical hunky type of guy with all good looks, muscles, and a heartbreaking smile. He was slim - I think that's how he was described. He was average in appearance, but he had a big heart. Although, he and Mia had a lot of misunderstandings (which is normal), they fix it. He makes up for his mistakes, or at least he tries.

I love Adam. Rereading this, made me remember all the reasons why i love him.

Kim: I really like her. She was the best friend I never had or at least used to have. I'm not gonna go into details, but she really reminded me of my former best friend, who I don't really talk to anymore. We sort of drifted away I guess. Anyway, Kim, I love her. How she understood that Mia needed her Adam time too. Kim and Adam don't really get along very well, but they manage to be civil to each other for Mia. And when the accident happened, she was there not only for Mia, but also for Adam.

Mia's Family: I have no words to explain how much I love them. Her parents were the best ever. They were... unconventional. Which is not always good, but in their case, it worked very well. Their kids love them, and so does the people around them. I think I have a new favorite fictional parents aside from the Weasleys. They weren't the perfect parents, but they sure hell did try the best they could.


Their relationship was nothing short of perfect. Okay, it wasn't perfect in the sense that they get along all the time. They don't. They fight. They have misunderstandings. They argue. But at the end of the day, they realize that they're insanely crazy for each other and couldn't live leaving things the way they left it. What they have is a really mature relationship, that even most older people don't even have, and even Mia's mom seen that.

"That's not what I meant. The opposite, really. You and Adam never struck me as a 'high school relationship," Mom said making quote marks with her hands. "It was nothing like the drunken roll in the back of some guys Chevy that passed for a relationship when I was in high school. You guys seemed, still seem, in love, truly, deeply.

And what Adam said to Mia when she was at the hospital, about how he was willing to let he go just so that she could live, was a very, very admirable thing to do - giving up your own happiness so that other people could have their own. Shit! I'm getting teary-eyed again.

Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever find my Adam.


I'd have to say that this book, although short, tackled some good stuff. When I started this review, I said that this book had a lot of love in it. It had almost all the types of love. It wasn't just a love story about two people romantically involved, it was also a love story of her relationship with her family, her friends, and her music. It was so damn good. So fucking good.

This book made me ask myself, what would it have been like to be in Mia's position? To lose everything in one day. To lose all that she'd ever known in a blink of an eye. Would I have wanted to let go even when i knew someone would still be waiting for me to go back? Would I have stayed? Lot's of tough questions.

Another thing I really liked was the way the story was told. I like Mia's voice better now that before. I felt a little disconnected with her the first time I've read it, but now I totally get it.

Movie Reaction: I'd have to say that the movie was just as amazing as the book. I think they touched on parts of the book that needed to be shown. I think they chose the perfect actors to play the role. I liked Chloe for Mia and Jaime for Adam. They were perfect. And Adam's line towards the end? Jaime nailed that! I couldn't have imagined it any better. It tore my heart open, just like when I was reading it. Amazeballs!!! It made me cry... so hard. If you haven't watched the movie yet... Please do.

After making this review, I changed my former rating to 5. Why? Because why not? I don't even remember why I rated it a 4 when I first read it. I felt every tiny thing from the beginning to the end. It was executed perfectly. It will definitely pull your heart strings and will leave you wanting for more Adam and Mia.

This was ony of the first YA contemporary romance books I've read, and like Twilight, it will forever hold a special place in my heart. No matter how many new books I'll read, I'll always remember this book, that showed me that bad things are unpredictable, that family are not always just those you are related to by blood, and how love can change you forever.


  1. Umm...well...awkward... I am such a black sheep with this one! Nonetheless, though, I am glad you enjoyed it Sandee. :) I can imagine it would have been definitely heartbreaking and powerful if you were able to get into it. Thanks for sharing and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    1. Haha! :D
      I guess there are some books that we really won't be able to get into... Like Throne of Glass and The Darkest Minds is for me.
      The first time I read it... it was really a meeehh for me. Rated it a 3. But the second time was the charm.

      Thanks for reading this Zoe! :) *hugs*

  2. I tagged you for the Ten Book Challenge! Check out my post for more:

  3. I loved reading this, I'd love to add this to my to-read list!


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