Everyone thinks it was because of the snow.
If I Stay was my first foray into the world of YA sensation Gayle Forman and I found it to be a well-crafted read with an interesting concept driving the narrative.
Mia’s body is in the ICU, alone and afraid. She was supposed to be driving with her family to visit friends and yet here she is, in hospital, with a choice to make – to stay or go.
If I Stay is a character-driven narrative about the choice between life and death. Whilst out-of-body experiences are frequently explored on television series, I’ve yet to read one, let alone see one carry a whole book so successfully. Foreman is able to articulate Mia’s confusion and uncertainty beautifully and rather than have a book entirely composed of a spirit wandering the halls of a hospital she intersperses the narrative with flashbacks to add depth.
Conceptual and characterful, If I Stay is an emotional read – swinging from wonderful nostalgia to heart-breaking reality – but it’s not perfect. There were some rather cringey first-love sections (play me?! really?!) but you can forgive the cheese when there is so much content. I didn’t find the book ‘devastating’ or even ‘heart-breaking’ – I shed a tear or two because I always cry! – I came away thinking that If I Stay is more about life than it is about death.
If I Stay is a noticeably short book at 210 pages and it takes place over no more than a few critical moments in Mia’s life. It packs a lot into those moments, fleshing it out for Mia’s circumstance to become a tangible decision or her to make rather than something uncontrollable. It becomes a very interesting take on the reality and consequence of choice.