Welcome back fellow readers. I hope time has found you well, and that you’ve found yet another good book to sink your teeth into.
Lately I have been on a big love story kick. What can I say? I am a huge sucker for love stories. They just reel me in. (Hence, I am a sucker, but I love it and accept it fully.)
Though I love me a good love story, as a book reader I also have a touch of ADD, so I often jump from one genre to another. Literally. I read a little bit of anything and everything.
That ADD is what brings us here today. I decided to dive deep into my Never Ending Book Basket and pull out something different. I was in the mood for a change.
(In all honesty the book I read was right on top, but in my defense, my book basket does contain a little bit of everything.)
The book I read today has been on my to buy list for a while, and in a surprising twist of fate I was able to find this book at one of my Best 5 ½ Places to Find Books! (Since I haven’t finished the countdown yet, I won’t reveal where. Yet. But I will let you know this book was found in that pesky little ½ place I keep mentioning!)
So in my never ending battle to listen to my book ADD I read the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman.
If I Stay is a very emotional book, and I did not know what to expect going into reading it. The book is told from Mia’s point of view as she decides if she is going to choose to “stay” after her family is in a horrific car accident.
The book opens with a brief glimpse of Mia and her extremely adoring family, before segueing into the accident. If I Stay follows Mia from that accident as she is taken outside of her body, and must go through the painful decision of staying or going. To move on to whatever comes next, or stay and face the not so nice music of her new reality.
She’s not a ghost per say, but she can see and hear everything going on around her, while looking down at her battered body.
Interwoven with Mia’s current state are flashbacks telling brilliant stories about her family including her mother, father, little brother, Gran and Gramps, best friend Kim, and her boyfriend Adam. These flashbacks flow naturally into the story, and creates an excellent stream of consciousness effect in the book that lets you know exactly how Mia got to this point in her life and the story itself.
What I liked about this book:
- The rawness. This book is full of emotion and thought, and it is all raw and out there for everyone to see. I loved that the emotions put forth were believable for the situation, and nothing was shielded or censored. When going through something as horrific as Mia is, everything is messy and raw and complicated, and that emotion was brilliantly conveyed.
- Mia and her internal struggle. Mia is a gem of a character. Throughout this book she is either looking at her helpless injured body, or
remembering the many events of her life that bring her straight back into her harsh reality. (Those past events made me love her even more!) The internal struggle she battles throughout this book is phenomenal. Reading and watching as Mia struggles to decide whether to stay or go is heart rendering, and will really make you think: What would I do in the same position when the only choice I have is to live or die?
- The structure of the book. I loved the way this book was told in a stream of consciousness like format, where Mia interweaves her present state with stories from the past. This structure fits the book, and it makes it easy to flow between the past and present worlds. It also makes it really easy to like the characters from the small glimpses you see of them.
- The music. Music is a big part of this book. Mia is an accomplished cellist, and she comes from a world and family that loves, lives, and breathes music. Music is almost its own character in this book, and it finds its way into almost every character, sub story, and crevice. Music is the glue that really brings this book and its characters together.
- The pace. I don’t want to reveal any major plot points in this story (We don’t do that shit here!) but I will say the pace of this book is very good and well matched for the story being told. I read this book in one sitting, and the pace along with the great plot of the story was the reason why. You hit the ground running, and you don’t stop until the very end.
- The plethora of endearing characters. I cannot even begin to describe how much I love all the characters in If I Stay. Mia’s parents are the parents we all wish we had. Her little brother, Teddy is about as adorable as they come. Her best friend Kim, and her realness stand out in a sea of rawness. Adam, Mia’s boyfriend, adds another layer as well. (I think in the present tense of the story, he is only in the book less than 25 pages, but those pages and his searing emotion stand out.)
If I Stay is a book about a choice. Mia has to decide if she is going to stay and face the harsh reality of what she’s left with after a terrible accident, or if she’s going to go and let it all fade away.
The road to that choice is the pulse of this book, and the author does a fantastic job of creating a story where you honestly don’t know what the “right” answer to that choice is.
Watching Mia struggle with that choice takes you on a phenomenal journey that will make you wonder what you would do if asked the same question: Do you stay, or do you go?
This book is definitely an emotional and very raw ride, but it’s highly worth it. (And don’t worry, it’s not all dark, sad, and gloomy. I did smile and chuckle at some parts while reading. More than once, too!)
So, fellow book addicts I dare you to take a walk with me on the dark side.
Embrace your book ADD, and give something new and different a chance.
You’ll be glad you did.
I know I am.
ps. If you’d like to learn more about If I Stay and/or its author Gayle Forman, click one of the links below.