If I Stay by Gayle Forman

March 7, 2012
By Karynachu BRONZE, San Gabriel, California
Karynachu BRONZE, San Gabriel, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Seventeen-year-old, Mia’s life is altered when she finds herself lying along a snow blanketed road, parents lifeless on the ground. And what seemed to be her seven year old brother’s body in the distance turns out to be her own unconscious body. With life now in third person, Mia follows along to the hospital, and ends up having the choice of either to snap back to reality, or to simply keep dreaming. In the bittersweet, breath-taking novel, “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman, a curious, damaged teenager, Mia, is lost in her own world.
Forman purposefully alternates between the past and present tense to add more depth between the chapters. At one point, you’re in tears with Mia who looks upon her former life to find the joy and warmth she left with her family. Then within seconds, you’re shoved back to the cold, harsh present to see Mia in the hospital bed fighting for her life. Not only that, but the alternating segments in time also take you through a journey to understand the character better. Mia is a very complicated character; she loves to be independent, but she’s so drawn to friendship and other people. Through the past, you learn that she’s also faced many hardships that even stick with her to the present and you notice the subtle things she does to remind herself that she’s not the same person.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happened to me, and for the first time today, I don’t really care. I shouldn’t have to work this hard. I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard” (146). As the story carries on, Mia begins to struggle with deciding whether or not it’s worth it or not to keep going on. Forman is phenomenal at writing those little tearjerkers. And to be honest, I did shed a few tears. It’s once in a blue moon that a man could right such a deep novel in a girl’s perspective (or at least, I’ve read!) It made me gain so much respect for Forman because plain blocks of text hardly bring tears to my eyes, but this one did. I’ve always pondered on what the theme was. I suppose it’s because themes can be interpreted in so many ways. But to keep it simplified, I would say that the theme is to think long and hard on your decisions because one choice could lead to a permanent solution that can damage not only your life, but others’ lives as well.
To be honest, at first, I found no interest in this book. It was a cloudy Thursday and as dull as math classes can be, I asked my friend for any book to provide me entertainment for the rest of the period. Reluctantly, she handed me a book. “If I stay,” I read. As extremely cheesy as it sounded, I wasn’t hesitant to begin reading. And the thing was, was that it pulled me into the story before I even finished the first chapter. Much of Mia’s life consisted of music, a cello specifically, and because music has become a big part of my life, I was automatically drawn in. The writing quality itself blew me away and this has definitely made its way up my list of favorite books.

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