Favorite Book Feature: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I’m going to be featuring one of my favorite books on the last Friday of every month this year, telling you why it’s one of my favorites. You can find the full list of my favorite books here. February’s featured book is If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

If I Stay is about a young musician, Mia, who has a great family and a close friend and a good boyfriend. Her life was not perfect though, and she struggled with deciding whether or not to go to Julliard and leave behind her family and boyfriend, Adam. This caused a lot of tension with Adam, though her family of fellow musicians were very supportive of her.

However, when her family is in a car crash and Mia is left an orphan, she has an even more important decision to make. Mia has an out-of-body experience which allows her to watch the aftermath of the crash and go to the hospital to watch doctors try to save her life. Things don’t look good for Mia, and she is still unconscious after surgery, but she hears a nurse tell her grandparents that it’s not up to what the doctors do—she’s the one calling the shots. Mia is the one who decides if she stays or if she goes. And this decision terrifies Mia. Should she go with her dead parents, or should she stay with the rest of her family and friends?

I love If I Stay for so many reasons. The first reason is that I love books on a short timeline, particularly ones that span a single day like this book. A tight timeline makes books so fast-paced and impossible to put down. Both times I’ve read this book I’ve read it in only a couple sittings. I love how Forman splits the chapters into what’s going on at that present time and then a vivid memory where we get to see Mia’s past.

I also love this book because it really pulls at your emotions. This book is written in plain and simple language. I think that is so effective because Forman puts the raw emotions on the page and lets the readers feel them fully. The characters are all real and memorable. And the book is full of touching moments in Mia’s relationships with everyone, whether it’s her dad giving her a pep talk before her first cello recital, having meaningful discussions with her mom while doing dishes, or the words her grandfather speaks to her by her hospital bed. This book will make you cry. Probably multiple times.

The main reason that If I Stay is one of my favorite books is because it reminds me of something really important. In the book, Mia feels like she doesn’t have a reason to stay, to live anymore now that her parents are gone. She thinks life is too hard and she doesn’t want to go on without her family. But what the people who visit Mia in the hospital try to remind her is that they’re all still there. She still has a family. She still has so many reasons to live. She is an amazing cellist. She’s probably going to be accepted to Julliard. She has Adam, and her friend Kim. She has her grandparents and aunts and uncles who are all there with her in the hospital. This book reminds me that no matter how bad things get and no matter how hard things look, there are still so many wonderful reasons to keep going. Read the book to find out if all of these reasons are enough for Mia to stay.

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