Book Review: If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman

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.

A warning to fellow readers---if you have not read If I Stay, make sure you: one: are not home alone as I was,  two: have an adequate supply of tissues at the ready when you sit down with this book, and three:  have at least an hour and a half to read this book in one sitting because you're going to want to finish it once you start. 

I have heard so many great things about this book but I had no idea how powerful it would be.  It looks so unassuming, with the peaceful cover and small size (less than 200 pages) that I completely underestimated it. 

I sat down to read If I Stay after work one evening after my husband left for a business trip.  My cat immediately got in my lap---her favorite spot while I'm reading---and I did not move again until I finished the book an hour and a half later.  This would not usually be a problem except for the fact that I had one small napkin next to me (to hold my Hershey's Kisses when I first sat down) and was in desperate need of tissues throughout the whole book.  The story was just too gripping for me to stop long enough to get up and get tissues, so I confess that my tears fell unabated onto the blanket my cat was lying on.  She didn't like it, but I was too enmeshed in the story to get up.

I don't want to go into specifics about the story, because I think you need to read it for yourself.  There's really not much I can say without giving anything away.  Forman's writing style is clean and spare, something I really like.  I think it's hard to get spare writing right, but she hits the nail on the head, writing emotional scenes so cleanly that you feel what the characters are feeling---not what the author wants you to feel.  The book alternates seamlessly between the present day and flashbacks, something I also think can get choppy if done incorrectly.  Instead, the flashbacks keep the book moving at a pace where you don't want to stop reading. 

I think the most powerful thing about If I Stay is the fact that the writing makes it easy for you to put yourself in Mia's place.  I know that's what had me feeling so emotional through the whole book.  I was upset when I finished and found out that the sequel is not due out for another six months!  Somehow I thought it was already out.  I would recommend this book to anyone----it's that good.

Just One Gripe: 
My only gripe is that now I have to wait for the sequel.

The Best Thing About This Book: 
The writing and the emotions Forman elicits in her readers.

Appropriate for a younger audience: 

Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5
Setting/Imagery: 5/5
Originality: 5/5
Ending: 4/5
Total Score:  24/25


  1. I'm extremely glad that you enjoyed this one! I really don't think I can rave about If I Stay, or Gayle Forman, enough! I'm bummed that there's still a long wait until Where She Went is out and about. While I wasn't bawling the whole way through, I did re-read it, a tell-tale sign that I absolutely loved a book.

  2. I loved this book too:) It was a great read and I can't wait to read the next one. Nice review :)

  3. oh... I have fresh memories of joy and pain reading this book. Absolutely engulfed it in one sitting !
    So happy you enjoyed it too ^_^

  4. So glad to see you loved If I Stay! I agree, I had no idea when I started reading it that it would be such a powerful and emotionally uplifting read. Loved it and also can't wait for the sequel!!

  5. Hi, Kelli...

    I have an award for you over at my blog!

  6. I absolutely loved this book! You're so right about the book looking harmless until you read it. I also thought the book was powerful in mostly subtle ways such as the family flashbacks and such. I can't wait to see what happens in the sequel!

  7. Thanks for the tissue warning. Perhaps another time, not a book I feel I want to read just now but thanks for the recommendation, it does sound like a lovely read.

  8. Great review Kelli, I'm going to have to get hold of a copy of this one :o)

  9. I loved this book. I started reading it at night and ended up staying awake until 2 AM to finish it. My husband had fallen asleep, so I got out of bed and finished the book in the bathroom. I was glad he was asleep, because I was crying so hard that snot was dripping out of my nose (sorry for the imagery).
    Alison Can Read

  10. Now that's what I call heaven when you become so engrossed within a book, that all life fades in the background.

    Adding this one to WISH LIST and will scope out the stores next. IF I STAY sounds like a powerful read.

  11. Hi there! Just discovered this blog through someone else on the Book Blog Hop this week. I couldn't agree more with you about this book. If I Stay is a winner that is emotional without ever being manipulative.

    Emily Crowe

  12. I both liked and hated this book, the reality is so clear. The next book is out right now, I hope it ends better :)


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