If I Stay; Gayle Forman

If I Stay book cover

If I Stay; Gayle Forman
| published July 14, 2014 |

By Kristy Webster
Thursday Review contributor

The film based on the young adult novel by Gayle Forman, If I Stay is due to come out in theaters next month, on August 22nd. If the success of The Fault in Our Stars is any indication, I'm guessing those who haven't read this tear jerker yet will want to do so before they watch the movie adaptation.

Like The Fault in Our Stars, this may be a young adult novel, but it isn't light fare. This is another story about a young person dealing with a situation (mostly) out of her control, and a tragedy so heart wrenching and horrible it would devastate even the strongest and most mature among us. Mia is in a coma after a car accident that has ripped apart her life, stolen the most important parts of her existence in one catastrophic crash.

Mia, our narrator, is a meek, quiet seventeen-year-old girl, whose suffered a loss completely disproportionate to her age and life experience. Through flashbacks we become acquainted with Mia's family; her quirky parents, former punk rockers and her sweet brother Teddy to whom she acts as a second mother. We learn about her life in Portland, Oregon, about her best friend Kim, and, we learn about her first--and possibly last--love, Adam. Adam brings a unique element to the story, being that he seems to have more in common with Mia's parents than Mia does. Adam likes all the same music as Mia's parents, and is an up and coming indie "rock star" in the Portland community. Mia has embraced classical music as an incredibly disciplined and talented cello player who has just auditioned for admission to Julliard. In her life before the crash, the most difficult choice Mia faced was whether or not to leave Adam to attend school while he tours with his band. Now, she must choose whether to live at all.

All of these details of Mia's young life only intensify the weight of the decision placed before her; whether to let go of whatever is left of the life and family that's left behind or, to stay and face the aftermath of a horrible and potentially unbearable loss, alone. Though it deals with a tragic subject, Mia's recounted memories of happier times provide relief and hope as well as insight into what Mia's will ultimately choose.

Related Thursday Review articles:

The Fault in Our Stars; John Green; book review by Kristy Webster; Thursday Review; August 25, 2013.

Looking for Alaska; John Green; book review by Kristy Webster; Thursday Review; July 11, 2014.