Thursday, August 18, 2011

If I Stay - Gayle Forman

I've been hearing about this book forever.  Some loved it, some did not.  It has been compared to Twilight, which in hindsight is just WRONG but accounts for my hesitance to pick it up.  Ultimately, I read it for two reasons.  First, I got the sequel "Where She Went" from SIBA (reviewed tomorrow).  And second, Jill said I had to.  I must obey the Jill. 

Before I embark on a probably unnecessary synopsis, I'll just say that it is difficult to know what to say.  Dangerous territory this is, with potential for spoilers even if I'm trying hard not to reveal important things.  That was my disclaimer.  I shall do my best.

Synopsis:  Mia is a quiet, highly gifted musician who lives to play her cello, with a hip, loving family that is fully supportive.  She is likely going to attend Julliard next year, but is feeling edgy because it will mean that she will have to leave her rock-n-roller boyfriend Adam behind.  Mia and Adam have a more mature relationship than most teenagers, but the cello comes above all else.

But then one snowy day, a tragic accident occurs, and Mia finds herself hovering between life and death.  Mia reflects on her life with her family, her life as a musician, her life with her best friend and her boyfriend, and contemplates the merits of staying or going.

My thoughts: Stories of young love, if told without too much angst or whine, can cure what ails you.  (Even if you reside in my camp, and loathe smoochy romance.)  Better yet if it contains some realistic consideration about life and growing up, and doesn't dumb down to the reader.  (The idea that authors feel they need to appeal to a lowest common denominator when they are writing YA really annoys me.)  This kind of pleasure is exactly what you will find with "If You Stay".

Although the plot device used is not a new one, it still works because the writing is so incredibly REAL and readable - this is a one-sitting read.  The entire story is narrated in Mia's voice, and...crazy, I know, but Mia is a very likable teenager!  She is grounded, passionate about her music, respectful of her parents, and maintains a relationship with her boyfriend that is beyond that of a senior in high school.  Mia was a breath of fresh air. 

And while there is tragedy, it was never over-written or depressing.  It just WAS, and Mia deals with it in her level, clear-headed practicality.  To me, this felt like the perfect, comfortable young adult experience.

But...I feel like I'm blowing fluff and smoke at you.  I haven't told you anything of substance.  But like I said earlier, I really have to be careful not to give you too many details.  This book is better left for you to explore unhindered, and will leave you wanting more as you turn the last page.  But never fear, you can get more with the sequel "Where She Went".  Take care that you have it at the ready!

4.5 out of 5 stars   

       

22 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

This has been on my radar for a while, but I worried it would be overly sentimental. You make it sound very appealing - especially the single sitting bit. I am a bit more keen to read it than I was.

Jenny said...

I'm glad you liked it!! I actually liked the second one better so I'll look forward to that review too!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I liked the second one better too; can't wait to hear what you say!

caite said...

very likable teenager? there is such a thing?
seriously, it sounds more interesting than i would have thought.

{ignore the deleted comment on the previous post...i got confuse...}

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I really liked this one too, but like some of the others, I actually liked the sequel better. It's rare, but it happens occasionally.

Zibilee said...

I think I am going to try to read both of these over a long weekend if I can. It sounds like the perfect balance has been struck with these books and I am grateful that there is so little angst. I am really intrigued by what happens in this one, and I have also heard good things about the sequel. Great review on this one! Loved that you didn't give too much away.

Ti said...

I enjoyed this one enough, but liked Before I Fall more. I wasn't as pulled into this one as I had hoped to be.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

I found the first hard to talk about as well though I haven't read this one, yet, I feel like it will be around the same.

reviewsbylola said...

If I had thought this one would be like Twilight I never would have read it! I really want to read Where She Went soon.

Julie P. said...

I might give this one a try after your review!

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

Yay! I loved this one and the sequel too. If I remember correctly, you already read Where She Went? I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on that. :)

Marie said...

this sounds wonderful. I love a good love story and it sounds like it has a lot of twists and turns!

Carrie K. said...

I listened to this one on audio and it was amazing that way. Can't wait for you to read Where She Went!

heidenkind said...

I do enjoy stories of young love. :)

Beth F said...

I think you just tipped me over the edge ... I may have to finally give these books a try.

Kathleen said...

You have intrigued me with this one. I'm going to put it on my list!

softdrink said...

So you obey the Jill, huh? This could work to my advantage...

Jenners said...

I feel under Jill's power too … yet oddly didn't feel compelled to read this one. Maybe I missed her post that day.

blackplume said...

I love this book. One of my best reads this year. You can check my review here:
http://blackplume.wordpress.com/2011/08/17/if-i-stay/
Thanks!

stacybuckeye said...

I liked this one too. Now I need to read the sequel.

Melissa said...

I've had this book since it came out. I was so excited to read it, and yet it still sits on my shelf (along with so many others). Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I'm so behind. I need to read this one!