Title: If I Stay
Author: Gale Forman
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Pub. Date: April 2, 2009 (hardcover); April 6, 2010 (paperback)
I think I got caught up in the hype monster with this one. Not to say I didn't like it, because I did, but I expected this one to blow me out of the water, float me on a materialized surfboard on the highest wave, and then leave me floating indefinitely up in the clouds. LOL. So maybe my expectations weren't realistic. But from the heaps of ebullient reviews I read in the past couple years, I was sure this would be an over-the-top, amazing, unforgettable read. Bad hype, bad. Because while I wasn't astounded with the book, I did enjoy it. I was satisfied, you could say. But I had to consciously be aware of this and overcome any hypothetical comparisons.
If I Stay tells the story of Mia and her perfect family (cool parents and an adorable little brother). In a tragic accident, Mia loses the rest of her family and is on the verge of losing herself. Mia watches while doctors rush to save her life and her body lays lifeless in a hospital bed. She doesn't know why she has this opportunity to stand by invisibly and watch everyone, but she does. She watches as others react to the situation, waits patiently for her devoted boyfriend to make his appearance at her side, and has to decide if she can bear to return to life knowing that her family is gone and she'll, essentially, be all alone.
The story is told through Mia's current observations interspersed with memories from the past. In that way we learn about her family, her boyfriend, her hobbies, her extreme talent, and her immense potential. The story was overall very well put-together. I, personally, found that the writing style was somewhat simple and at an easier reading level than much of the other young adult books I've read. In that sense, I felt this book would be a good one for those younger readers, maybe 12/13ish. (This is as opposed to some "young adult" books that I feel are more appropriate for the 15-17 age group). I'm almost certain that if I had read this book at a younger age, I really would have found myself surfing the highest wave, touching the clouds. ;) So yes, a great book, fun read (ironically, the somber subject does not make this too sad of a read), but it wasn't my favorite read either.
Nevertheless, the highly anticipated sequel, Where She Went, comes out in a couple days. Stay tuned for my review of that tomorrow. You may be surprised with my reaction to that one!