Sometimes, my YA reads are self-selected, and other times, students encourage me to read books that will help me enter conversations with them. Gayle Forman’s If I Stay falls into the latter category. I didn’t know if I would like the book or not, and I certainly did not plan to see the movie without reading the book first. One of my students chose this for her book report last fall and recommended it to me. So I decided it was high time I pick it up.
If I Stay focuses on Mia, a high school senior with a loving family and bright future. That all gets wiped out in a snowy car accident that changes everything. With her life on the line, Mia experiences an out-of-body existence and watches herself as if from a distance, witnessing her anxious family and friends, and a host of deadly injuries that may end her life. Ultimately, Mia has to decide if she is going to stay or let herself die.
If I Stay was interesting to read as a Christian. Since I do believe in eternity, I was intrigued by the more agnostic aspects of death that this novel presented. I also wonder how I would react if I was having to make a choice about fighting for my life or letting go and dying.
From a novel aspect, though, I just didn’t know how to react. The family seems a bit too perfect, and at times, the backstory got a little boring. The relationship was, while somewhat realistic, a bit too dwelt-upon. I did not care for the character of Adam; I was far more interested in Mia’s cello career. And maybe I’m just a cynical adult, but sometimes, I have a hard time taking young love too seriously. Overall, If I Stay was interesting, even if it wasn’t perfect.