If I Stay by Gayle Forman
April 9th 2009 by Dutton Juvenile
Hardcover, 199 pages
0525421033 (isbn13: 9780525421030)
rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Everyone thinks it was because of the snow."
Because I try to maintain a no-spoiler policy in my reviews, I am using for a synopsis the wording provided by the publisher.
Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love – music – even if it means losing her boy friend and leaving her family and friends behind?
The 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.
The words I’d use to describe this book have all been taken: “graceful,” “lovely,” “gentle.” Also “page-turner,” “imaginative,” “haunting” and “stay-up-very-very-late-to-finish.” Okay, maybe I’m the first to use that last phrase.
The plot is gripping, but it’s the characters in If I Stay that make it so unforgettable. For example, when her little brother was born, Mia’s dad gave up his long hair and leather jacket, donned a bow tie and became a teacher. And yet the transition was natural, and typical of the bonds that Forman so deftly creates in this close-knit and authentic family. Adults are adults, teenagers are teenagers, and without preaching, Forman demonstrates how that dynamic grounds Mia. Mia herself is the sort of protagonist you fall in love with, you root for, a narrator who easily steps into the ranks of Bella and Hermione.