& Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. ebook. YA Fiction. Publisher: Penguin Group

If I Stay by Gayle Forman. ebook. YA Fiction. Publisher: Penguin Group

The Book Itself: I cheated, and read the ebook, but I have seen (and held) the paperback before, so I’m not completely without perspective. The cover is all YA-cliche: dramatic picture of a pretty girl. The front cover opens up to a two page blurb spread of other authors and reviewers praising the book, set on a background image of broken glass. A little hair-raising. The inside of the cover is better than the outside ūüėõ

My Review:
“Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love‚ÄĒmusic‚ÄĒeven if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.”

My biggest issue is with how the premise of this book was executed. The idea is that Mia gets in a car accident, along with her mother and father and younger brother. She has an out of body experience while she is in a coma (my issues with this a little laterrr), and is given the chance to decide whether to stay without all/some of her family.

Okay. My issue: the book is a giant set-up. What I mean is,¬†the entire book is spent setting up for her even acknowledging she might want to go. I think it was on page…87 of my ebook’s 120 pages? On page 87, Mia actually thought about whether or not she wanted to stay. That’s¬†72 percent¬†of the book, taken up by flashbacks on family moments, dates with her boyfriend, and anxious wanderings through hospital hallways, seeing which of her friends and extended family have arrived. It takes too long to get to the actual book! Plus, it ends where it should begin: once she makes a decision. It felt like one big lead up to…..nothing. Plus, you kind of sort of guess what her decision is going to be all along…especially since she takes until page 87 to consider other options, plus there’s a sequel.

Mia’s out of body/ghostly experience is shaky at best. She determines early on that she¬†cannot waft through walls like a spirit. She has to slip through doors when people open them. So she has some solidity. But that leads me to question if she’s solid enough that people could feel her? She never tries to touch a loved one (and wouldn’t you?! I’m speaking too much for myself here, but if my¬†boyfriend, my¬†grandparent, my¬†best friend were there and I was¬†scared and distraught and super super vulnerable, I’d want to seek comfort. Apparently Mia doesn’t, which personally distances me from her). She’s an aloof character, this Mia. For being such an emotionally charged book, I was surprised she didn’t seem affected by much, either as a live person in flashbacks or as a non-ghost post-accident (at least not until page 87). I think she’s supposed to be a little unlike herself as a non-ghost, but she seems pretty deadpan and numb either way.

I can see¬†how¬†it could be heart-wrenching, gutting, emotionally exhausting. And it’s certainly sad reading the accident scene and peeking in on the family when they were happiest. But the book didn’t have a plot until more than halfway through. I felt like I was either slogging through memories, or twiddling my thumbs in a hospital waiting room, watching Mia’s friends try dumb, implausible things to attempt to see her.

Not sure if I’ll see the movie, even less enthused about reading the sequel. Maybe on RedBox, maybe as a library borrow.

My Grade: C-


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