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Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I f  I  S t a y by Gayle Forman
Release Date: 4/9/09 
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Age Group: Young Adult (13+)
Pages: 234
Source: Borrowed/public library
Meme: Forget Me Not
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kindle
Word Blurb: Five words- A blow to the heart.
"In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck... A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands."

It's been a long time since I've been affected in such a way by a book. Pushed to tears, a severe blow to the heart that threw me into a daze... I've always been one to feel deeply, no matter the medium. And in this case, I was completely stunned. By the time I was done reading IF I STAY, I felt like my heart went a few rounds with the champ and lost, utterly emotionally drained. I don't know how the heart withstands what's been lost the way Mia has lost... It's like, if I applied that life-altering moment to my life, I don't think I would've chosen to stay. I don't. I'm weak when it comes to pain pressure.

I'm kind of painfully, beautifully mesmerized by the novel... With Mia relaying the events of her life, helping me get to know the most important people in her life, making me feel agonized right along with her... The characters were just amazing people. Mia had the best parents a girl could ever ask for. They were painstakingly real, people you wish you knew. Her brother was like this giant energy ball, always saying the funniest things as a result of wobbly seven-year-old thoughts. Her grandparents, so old fashioned and sweet. Then there's le boyfriend and best friend, Adam and Kim. Adam, a climbing rock star, has an underlying sweetness and passion for music, this incredible love for the shy, quiet girl that Mia is. And Kim, with her brutal honesty and short-temper, all the while somehow maintaining this goody two shoes image. I cracked up a lot because of her! And thank goodness I did, otherwise I would've found myself drowning in this bittersweet and emotional story...

The story itself is told in first person POV, through Mia's eyes in the present and in flashes of the past. The events that occur... How does one heal after the crippling of the soul? A single blinding moment which takes away everything you've known, and all that you loved? How do you get passed that? I honestly wouldn't know how to deal. I think that's why I had to cry those six or seven times that I did. (I was reading this in school, so people were staring at me funny when they saw I was crying. People just don't seem to get how emotionally invested a person can become while reading a book.) My heart felt like it had been squeezed and pulled, my emotions wrung out and twisted. At one point, I thought about putting the book down and just not reading it, because I didn't think, as sensitive as I am, that I could take much more. The whole thing just felt so real to me, as if I was right there with Mia as everything unfolded.

You might have noticed that I have no smileys posted for this one. That's because I more than love this book, yet at the same time I don't know what I feel. So, I left it without smileys. IF I STAY is an exceptionally written, wrenching story of a shattering moment, a single accident, in a heartbroken Mia's life... I'm definitely going to seek out the sequel/companion to this, and hope that everything turns out alright with the heart-achingly beautiful turn of events by the end of this book.

"When Teddy slid out... He didn't come out squalling like you see on TV. He was just quiet. His eyes were open, staring straight at me. He held my gaze as the midwife suctioned out his nose" (132 | 234).
"Mom always said that it was because Teddy saw me first, and because I cut his cord, that somewhere deep down he thought I was his mother... She exaggerated. Teddy didn't really think I was his mother, but there were certain things that only I could do for him...And when he'd skin a knee or bump his head, if I was around he would not stop crying until I bestowed a magic kiss on the injury, after which he'd miraculously recover... I would do anything to have been able to give him one" (133 | 234).
"'Jesus, Mia your hands are freezing.' He squats down, takes my right hand into his...draws his mouth to them, blowing warm air into the shelter he's created. 'You and your crazy hands.' Adam is always amazed at how even in middle of summer, even after the sweatiest of encounters, my hands stay cold...He says I have bionic hands, that this is why I'm such a good cello player.
I watch him warm my hands as he has done a thousand times before. I think of the first time he did it, at school, sitting on the lawn, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I also remember the first time he did it in front of my parents... I was freezing outside. Adam grabbed my hands and blew on them. Teddy giggled. Mom and Dad didn't say anything, just a exchanged a quick look, something private that passed between them and the Mom smiled ruefully at us" (165 | 234).

Thanks for reading! And happy blogging!


Kristi said...

Thanks for the review, I defintely have to check this read out...just added it to my Goodreads, along with a mental note to prepare myself before I read. I'm a softie. ;P

A. Knight said...

Oh, yeah, make sure to have the Kleenex handy. And I'm glad you liked the review. I hope you enjoy the book yourself...

Thanks for stopping by, Kristi!