QBD Great Reads: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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Oh wow! Such an emotional story. I had similar feelings reading this story as when reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I loved both stories, as both made me cry – in a good way – and I was emotionally invested in the characters.

This young adult contemporary novel is about Mia, a young 17 year old who plays the cello. She has a boyfriend Adam who plays in a rock band and her family are also musicians. Even though her family loves music Mia feels somewhat separate from them as she is drawn to classical music - which is distinctly different from the rock concerts they love.

If I Stay is told over a period of 24 hours from Mia’s perspective, mixing present time with flashbacks of key moments in her life. Very close to the beginning of the novel Mia and her family are involved in a severe car accident. If I Stay, told through the eyes of Mia as she has an out-of-body experience while her physical body lies in a coma, takes readers through Mia’s decision as she is forced to choose whether to stay or let go.

What I really loved about this story was the voice of Mia. It was believable and I found it a really good vehicle with which to tell the story. Mia could see all that was happening to her yet she wasn’t a ghost (she couldn’t walk through walls) and as she was in limbo she could not be heard. Having Mia remember her life (quite literally having it “flash before her eyes”) was a great way to hear from everyone else in the story as well as knowing what was happening in the present. One of the funniest scenes was when Mia’s boyfriend Adam was trying to get into the ICU to see her but was blockaded by a nurse as he was not family, so he brought in a rock star as a diversion – hilarious!

If I Stay is by nature a sad book - there were two sections in particular where I couldn’t read the words through my tears. However, it is also uplifting and overall such a good story! The main message to take from this novel is that love, of all kinds, endures. Definitely a recommended read.

~Kerryn, QBD Northland