Rated Reads

If I Stay

by Gayle Forman

Rated: High

Seventeen-year-old Mia hangs suspended between life and death. A car accident has just claimed the life of her parents and has seriously injured her and her little brother, and she is somehow outside of her body, observing the frenetic activity going on at the scene and then at the hospital. She wonders how long she will be in this middle state, and why. And the big question is, Does she want to stay alive? Or “move on” — somehow?

Mia’s family is a happy one. Or was. Her parents are a bit quirky — her father is a teacher, but his former career as a rock musician still informs his daily life and personality. His old drum set is in their basement. He used to only bicycle everywhere, but he finally got a driver’s license after Teddy was born. Her mother works at a travel agency in their Oregon town, and doesn’t really know how to cook. Music informs their lives, but Mia’s decision as a younger child to learn how to play cello threw them all for a loop — classical wasn’t exactly what the family was used to. But her cool parents are wonderfully supportive. Now they’re gone.

And then there’s Adam, Mia’s boyfriend of two years. He’s an equally cool guy, cooler than she is, she feels. He’s in a band whose star is rising; music ties them together, too. But is the tie of a boyfriend, as devoted as he is, enough for Mia to stay without her family?

Gayle Forman’s novel about family and love — and choices — is beautiful and tenderly sweet. It’s refreshing to read a teen book about a close-knit family, complete with supportive parents.

Rated: High for language and some sexual material. About 10 uses of very strong language, and about 15 of moderate language. The teen characters are sexually active, and the mother provides birth control; details are fairly minimal.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

4 Responses to If I Stay

  1. […] She Went is Gayle Forman’s sequel to If I Stay, in which Mia’s family is killed in a car accident that places her in a coma for several […]

  2. […] If I Stay. Wow, what a great book. I loved the absolute real-ness of the whole story and its ability to make me root for the characters. The main character has such a beautiful relationship with her family members. I loved that the family unit was intact and that the parents and children loved each other so much. But at the same time, the main character has to decide if she should go with them or stay with her life and her boyfriend, who is a fine young man. […]

  3. […] Forman, you are a fantastic writer. I just had to say that up-front. Forman’s young adult book If I Stay and its sequel of sorts, Where She Went, were excellent, and she hasn’t disappointed me with her […]

  4. […] feel it), I just didn’t love her enough for the whole book. I read both Forman’s new adult sets If I Stay and Where She Went and Just One Day and Just One Year, and those were quite good. The first in […]

  • If I Stay
  • by Gayle Forman
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: