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  • Writer's pictureLaura L. Zimmerman

Book Review: ‘If I Stay’ by Gayle Forman

I saw the movie based on the book, ‘If I Stay’ by Gayle Forman, earlier this year. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see it, since the commercials looked super heart wrenching, and I’m such a crier, I try to avoid these types of movies at all costs. But I like Chloe Grace Moretz, so I figured I’d check it out. And oh. my. word. I’m so glad I did.

I knew the premise – A young girl is in a coma and her spirit roams the hospital as she decides if she wants to stay on earth or go to heaven. But I honestly couldn’t figure out how on earth (no pun intended) this book – let alone movie – could actually be interesting. I mean, how much could the author do with a ghost girl caught in a hospital?

A lot, apparently.

As soon as I saw the movie, I knew right away I wanted to read the book. And I’m so glad I did. Because – let’s all say it together! the book is always better than the movie. And it is. It really is.

The Synopsis:

“Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now. I sit up as much as I can. And I listen.

Stay, he says.”

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

‘If I Stay’ is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make. 

The Short: Five Stars, hands down, amazing writing! I mean, did you read that teaser line above? *Hello!*

The Long: Ok, you’ve gathered from the many hints I’ve left already, that I loved this book. It was about so much more than just a ghost girl wandering a hospital. That’s because this is not a plot driven book. It’s a character driven book – or more specifically, a book about the relationships of that character. As the reader, I became immersed in each of Mia’s relationships – her parents, her brother, her grandparents, her best friend, and especially, her boyfriend, Adam. Oh Adam! Because, ultimately, this is a love story. Not a sappy, cliche romance novel that would only interest people with a double X chromosome and are over the age of forty. But a real, honest to God, love story, that appeals to the masses and speaks universally.

Yes, I loved the story, but that was only because Ms. Forman’s writing allowed me to. It was deep and rich, and pulled me inside the story, as if I were one of Mia’s friends and all I wanted to do was to get into the ICU to see her. I cried and cried and cried, at oh so many parts. Too many parts. Even though I’d seen the movie and knew exactly what happened. You’d think I wouldn’t be as emotional about it, but Forman’s writing moved me beyond what the movie ever could have.

The ending was great – better than the movie, which was changed just a little, probably to wrap things up a bit more fully for the visual audience. But I loved how this ended. It was perfect and final. Bravo, Forman, on a fantastic novel that should be at the top of everyone’s to read list. 

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Maybe I was particularly drawn to this story because the main characters are musicians – Mia is a cellist, and Adam is in a band. And Mia comes from a rock-star father and was pretty much raised on music. But I don’t think that’s it. I think, even if you aren’t a music buff, that you will still love this book. Go ahead. Read it. You know you want to. 

(P.S. Just a general warning, this book does have a number of worty dirds, with a few f-bombs. Consider yourself warned!) 

That’s all I got. What about you? Have you read this? If so, thoughts please! Leave a comment down below 😉

Happy reading, friends.

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