Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction

Number of Pages: 390

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes

I was nervous about reading this book when I saw the blurb on my library copy (something along the lines of Sure to appeal to fans of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight– egad!) I enjoyed Frankie and Bug so much though that I decided to give it a try, and I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not a huge fan of romance but this one had a good enough story that I didn’t mind so much.

The main character, Mia, is a promising cellist who ends up in coma after a horrific car accident that kills her entire family. She has an out-of-body experience where she considers the pros and cons of choosing to live a forever changed life. Mia’s musician boyfriend Adam fights to get into the hospital to see her despite not being ‘family’ and her extended family stands vigil over her comatose body.

If I Stay is a quick, easy read with a lot of emotion. Its conversational style kept me turning pages and Mia was a sympathetic protagonist. Her relationship with Adam was not as corny as one might expect (okay, the ‘play me like a cello’ scene was pretty corny) and the characters of Mia’s family are surprisingly well-developed.

They’re an odd bunch who seem to lack boundaries to a certain extent but it’s good to see loving parents in a YA novel, even if they die horribly less than twenty pages in (while inattentive and uncaring YA parents live, Mia’s mom and dad were apparently too good for this world.)

I definitely had some questions about Mia’s corporeal state (if she taps somebody on the shoulder, can they feel it?) but it was once of those instances where I didn’t mind suspending disbelief. Overall, I didn’t think this was as good as Frankie and Bug but it was an engrossing story that I devoured in less than two days. I might even read the sequel, which is sure as hell more than I can say for Twilight. Here’s to being surprised by popular lit you think you’re too cool for!

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