Thursday, July 25, 2013

REVIEW: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman
Publication Date: April 2, 2009
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Source: Book Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

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 heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

If I stay definitely threw me off a bit when I started reading it. I didn't really know anything about the book and kind of had a different idea of what it would be about. What I got from that situation was a happy surprise to say the least. The story is so beautifully written by the author and pile that on top of the fact that the idea is such a beautiful one and BAM you have a great book!

The book begins with a snowstorm in Oregon. School gets canceled for a teenager Mia and her younger brother, Teddy. The family makes plans to visit some friends during this “day off” and within the first chapter of the book, Mia’s family suffers a terrible car accident leaving Mia as the only survivor.

Mia lies unconscious in a hospital bed but is also present outside of her body. She can see everything that is going on, but no one can see her. She finally realizes that she has to make the difficult decision to stay on Earth with her grandparents and love of her life, Adam, while feeling the constant heartache of losing her entire immediate family or she has to choose to continue on to the afterlife with her parents and her brother and leave her remaining family and boyfriend back on Earth.

Now I have to admit, even though Mia’s entire family passes away, I wasn’t completely overcome with emotion, like I felt I should be. I think that because we JUST started reading the book, the author takes such an extreme turn too soon and doesn’t give the reader enough time to really get to know the characters. I will say though, that I did feel sadness when reading that Teddy, Mia’s younger brother, doesn’t make it through. Reading those passages truly hurt me for Mia and her brother. Maybe because I know that I love my brothers more than anything and could never imagine losing one of them. at that moment I feel her pain like it was my own.

I also had another moment of true heartache while reading this book-- when Mia’s grandpa comes into her hospital room and tells her that’s it’s okay to let go. That yes, she has family left that love her and want her to stay, but she doesn’t need to suffer just for them. He tells her that it’s okay if she wants to die, it’s okay if she wants to join her parents and brother. That moment truly broke my heart. I could feel all the love and sorrow that the grandfather was feeling for his only surviving grandchild. I could see that, at that very moment, though he loved her dearly, he put her needs above his. Such a powerful scene in the book, check it out below -- and prepare for the water works

“It's okay,' he tells me. 'If you want to go. Everyone wants you to stay. I want you to stay more than I've ever wanted anything in my life.' His voice cracks with emotion. He stops, clears his throat, takes a breath, and continues. 'But that's what I want and I could see why it might not be what you want. So I just wanted to tell you that I understand if you go. It's okay if you have to leave us. It's okay if you want to stop fighting.'

For the first time since I realized that Teddy was gone, too, I feel something unclench. I feel myself breathe. I know that Gramps can't be that late-inning pinch hitter I'd hoped for. He won't unplug my breathing tube or overdoes me with morphine or anything like that. But this is the first time today that anyone has acknowledged what I have lost. I know that the social worker warned Gran and Gramps not to upset me, but Gramps's recognition, and the permission he just offered me--it feels like a gift.

Gramps doesn't leave me. He slumps back into the chair. It's quiet now. So quiet you can almost hear other people's dreams. So quiet that you can almost hear me tell Gramps, 'Thank you.”

Overall, it was a great book and I highly recommend it to all. Now to get started on round two, Where I Went

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