I have had nightmares before — falling nightmares, playing-a-cello-recital-without-knowing-the-music nightmares, breakup-with-Adam nightmares — but I have always been able to command myself to open my eyes, to lift my head from the pillow, to halt the horror movie playing behind my closed lids. I try again. Wake up! I scream. Wake up! Wakeupwakeupwakeup! But I can’t. I don’t.
(from If I Stay, page 18)
Quick summary: 17-year-old Mia’s life hangs in the balance after a family outing on a snow day turns into a tragedy. While Mia decides her future, she takes readers back in time, recalling her family’s strong bond and love of music, her love affair with the cello and her hopes for Julliard, and her complicated relationship with her up-and-coming rock star boyfriend, Adam.
Why I wanted to read it: My 14-year-old daughter liked it and wanted me to read it so we could eventually see the movie together. (We decided to wait for the DVD, so we haven’t seen it yet.)
What I liked: If I Stay is a beautifully written novel. I loved that Gayle Forman doesn’t sugar-coat the horrible decision Mia must make, and she manages to pack an emotional punch without being melodramatic.
What I disliked: I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I felt sad for Mia, but I honestly didn’t care which choice she made. I didn’t understand her attraction to Adam, either. There wasn’t anything really wrong with him; he just didn’t “wow” me. Also, I found a certain romantic scene to be more silly than passionate. I thought maybe my ho-hum attitude toward Mia and Adam might be because I’m not the intended audience for a young adult novel, but my daughter told me she felt the same way about their relationship, though she liked the book more than I did overall. I was drawn more to the relationship between Mia and her parents, and that aspect of the story is what pulled at my heart.
Final thoughts: I liked If I Stay for the most part. I read it in one sitting, and it did give me a lot to ponder even if I wasn’t fully invested in Mia and Adam’s love story. However, my daughter wasn’t too impressed by the sequel, Where She Went, even going as far as telling me that it wasn’t necessary. Since I felt satisfied with the ending of If I Stay, I think I’ll take her advice and skip it.
Disclosure: I borrowed If I Stay from my daughter.
© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.