If I Stay by Gayle Forman


     Kim stops and smiles for a split second. Then she makes this funny noise, a cross between a cough and a throat-clearing. I've heard her make this sound before; it's what she does when she's summoning her courage, getting ready to jump off the rocks and into the bracing river water.
     "I do have a point to all this," she continues. "There are like twenty people in that waiting room right now. Some of them are related to you. Some of them are not. But we're all your family."
     She stops now. Leans over me so that the wisps of her hair tickle my face. She kisses me on the forehead. "You still have a family," she whispers.


Mia is a talented cellist who quite possibly has gotten excepted into Julliard. Her father is a reformed punk rocker now turned square, and though her mother has put away the leather boots, band t-shirts and feminist angst, she's still his biggest groupie. Little brother Teddy at the age of eight is already banging away on the drums while his rocker parents listen on proudly. Mia's love of the classical may be in sharp contrast to the rest of her odd little punk family but they all share a great love of music and more so, each other.

It's a snow day! A rare free day where children and parents are exempt from school and work alike. A picturesque day that starts with pancakes and the happiness that only getting out of what you didn't want to do can bring. So to celebrate, the family takes off to visit grandparents and ex-bandmates, a treat that everyday life usually doesn't afford. But the morning ends abruptly with a car accident, death and Mia, unconscious and barely alive in the ICU.

Mia standbys and watches as the doctors and nurses work away at her near lifeless body, forcing it to pump and breath. But is this what she wants? Does she want to live knowing what she must face when she wakes up? Waiting for her is heartache, loneliness and words that once applied to other people, like tragic and orphan. Or should she move on, follow her family and perhaps join them in whatever comes next?

Which would you choose? Could you choose?

Having heard wonderful things about this story I wanted to read it even though I knew it had the potential to break my heart. It's a big committment, to go into a story knowing that no matter what happens there's no happy ending. Ms. Forman exercises marvelous control in this little story. It quite possibly could have been an uncomfortable snot-fest where you just cried and cried for 199 pages and you'd be too caught up in one feeling to catch the myriad of others she was bringing you. Thankfully, just as you're working yourself up for a good solid cry, the author eases you back down from the present by bringing you into Mia's past where she embarks on some very detailed character building- a big surprise since it's such a short read. I wasn't expecting to really get to know anyone but Mia. Snaps to Forman for letting you leave this story truly knowing and loving all the people you've met.

Even with the emotional mini breaks orchestrated by the author, be prepared to all but lose it in select places. Skip the mascara and keep the tissue handy but most of all, enjoy!

4 thoughts?:

Taschima Cullen July 26, 2009 at 1:00 PM  

UUUH now i want to read it, Thanks Jane!

lifeafterjane July 26, 2009 at 3:05 PM  

I understand and I'm sorry. I fed your TBR :(

Eli July 26, 2009 at 7:13 PM  

I've been really wanting to read this! Great review! x)

Ladybug August 9, 2009 at 3:31 PM  

I loved this book! I read it as a part of the first Norwegian book blog tour(ever I think), I'll be translating my review into English soon.

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