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Ashley Mar Reads

I'm a fifteen year old high school sophomore with a passion for writing, reading and talking about books!

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If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay - Gayle Forman

After the tragic death of her parents, seventeen year old Mia is faced with the impossible decision of death or life without the one’s she loves.
I was slightly skeptical of this novel. I had attempted to read this back maybe two years ago, and it just wasn't anything special to me. I felt like I had read about half the book, and it just wasn't sticking. In truth I had only read about thirty pages. With the movie coming out, and my wanting to go see it— seeing as it goes against my bookish religion to see the movie first— I decided to pick it up again.
You have to be patient with this novel. I realize now that had I read another ten pages I would have been fully engrossed with this novel. The first forty pages, essentially, are world building, and slightly character building. Now that I’m a more mature reader than I was two years ago, I can appreciate the world building, and not be so eager to get into the action of the story.
Of all of the characters, her grandfather really had the largest impact on me. He’s so special to me because he gives Mia the great and simple gift of love and acceptance. He is willing to accept her decision whatever it may be, and he lets her know that. He loves her so much that he’s willing to let her go, something that the other characters aren't quite willing to do, even though they do love her. He’s a character that everyone needs in their life.
Adam’s and Mia’s relationship was cute and sweet, and based on respect which is always a good thing that is sometime overlooked in YA fiction. I so enjoyed reading about it; and really getting to see how their relationship was built not just the current state that it was in. My only wish would be that we go to see a little bit more of it.
The subject matter in this novel was so heavy, as deaths in novels always are, but to have an entire book dedicated to this particular theme is interesting. As well, it’s original, much more because it’s from the perspective of the dying person. It literally takes into account the idea that in death we see memories from our past. If I Stay is a new take on the idea of death; the person has the power over this force we generally think of as uncontrollable. It would seem that the obvious thing to do would be to stay, but as you continue with the novel you do, in fact, begin to wonder whether or not you would choose to stay.
Gayle Forman’s writing is so skillful that she has the power to change your opinions in the matter of a novel, and a short one at that. She can manipulate your emotions so well that you do feel like you’re Mia, and this decision she’s trying to make becomes real, and it becomes your own.
I really enjoyed that the antagonist wasn't a person, but death itself. Antagonists are a tricky subject, and can have a huge effect over the reader’s opinion of the book. Often character antagonists are too overpowering in a novel, and are irritating to the point of being unbearable to read about. But by the antagonist being death you can focus more on the themes and the lessons being told throughout the story.
“Sometimes you make choices in life, and sometimes choices make you.”
I know some people didn't enjoy the jumping around between past and present, but I didn't mind it. I actually enjoyed it. The story maintained a nice flow. I wouldn't have enjoyed it so much had the memory not related to the person currently being mentioned, or had it not somehow related to the current situation. Because it did, I found the branching out from common writing format an admirable quality of the book.
Out of every novel I've read this year, or probably anytime for that matter, this one has probably had one of the greatest impacts on me spiritually, and regarding life those views.
Sometimes when I think about it, I would give If I Stay 5/5 stars, other times 4.5/5 stars. I loved this book! I loved the writing! I love a good cry! But I was slightly disappointed by the ending. It was too abrupt for my taste. Everything was fine until the very last page. But with that set aside it was an extremely moving and enjoyable book.
I am so glad that I did decide to give this novel a second go. It was worth every minute spent reading, and pondering over this book. It now holds a very special place in my heart, and I’m looking forward to checking out more of Forman’s work.