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A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all makeaand the ultimate choice Mia commands.
- ISBN-13: 9780525421030
- ISBN-10: 0525421033
- Publisher: Dutton Books
- Publish Date: April 2009
- Page Count: 201
- Reading Level: Ages 14-UP
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 64.
- Review Date: 2009-03-02
- Reviewer: Staff
The last normal moment that Mia, a talented cellist, can remember is being in the car with her family. Then she is standing outside her body beside their mangled Buick and her parents’ corpses, watching herself and her little brother being tended by paramedics. As she ponders her state (“Am I dead? I actually have to ask myself this”), Mia is whisked away to a hospital, where, her body in a coma, she reflects on the past and tries to decide whether to fight to live. Via Mia’s thoughts and flashbacks, Forman (Sisters in Sanity) expertly explores the teenager’s life, her passion for classical music and her strong relationships with her family, friends and boyfriend, Adam. Mia’s singular perspective (which will recall Alice Sebold’s adult novel, The Lovely Bones) also allows for powerful portraits of her friends and family as they cope: “Please don’t die. If you die, there’s going to be one of those cheesy Princess Diana memorials at school,” prays Mia’s friend Kim. “I know you’d hate that kind of thing.” Intensely moving, the novel will force readers to take stock of their lives and the people and things that make them worth living. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)
The ultimate decision
Seventeen-year-old Mia has her entire life ahead of her. She’s a shoo-in for the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, and the biggest decision she has to make is whether to move to New York on her own or stay in Oregon with her boyfriend Adam. That decision seems trite in comparison to the one she faces after a deadly car crash changes the course of her life forever.
If I Stay is a page-turner, save the moments when reflection is required. In a fairly slim volume, author Gayle Forman manages to create a believable and virtually blameless character in Mia. Readers will find themselves drawn to empathize with Mia and nearly all of the other characters at some point.
Mia contemplates her love for the cello, her boyfriend Adam and her best friend Kim. She also considers what life will be like having lost so much. Life and death are the two choices presented to Mia, but the first-person account offers no insight into who is presenting that decision. Religion, faith and pre-conceived notions about life after death play no role in this bare-bones depiction of the psychological inner-workings of one young woman.
Soon to be a film, If I Stay calls to mind Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, but readers must cope with the tragic events in the novel without having the satisfaction of a specific character to blame. Teen readers will be thrilled, horrified, saddened and excited by the subject matter. The implications of Mia’s choice—and eventual decision—will resonate with readers of all ages.