If I Stay by Gayle Forman - review

Gayle Forman, If I Stay

People think I like chick flicks, and I always have good excuses for reading books that are apparently, chick flicks. Take The Fault In Our Stars for example. I forced my own dad to go and see the movie and he was practically in tears, and not for the right reason, sadly. He asked me, and I said the movie 'glorified the romance'. Truthfully I did. Which is why I secretly went into Waterstones and bought If I Stay, and I wasn't disappointed because it wasn't really a chick flick. Kind of.

If I Stay is about Mia and her brother (Teddy) and her mum and dad. One day in their lovely home state in America, it snows. And they are in a car crash. Mia's Mum and Dad die at the scene, and both her and Teddy are in a critical condition. What happens next is incredibly difficult to explain, so this is what I made of it.

Mia enters a state of… 'non-death' (?) and watches over as her body is operated on and transported from ward to ward until it ends up in the ICU. She watches as people come and go, watching her body. The rest of the book is based upon Mia reflecting over her life and what she's accomplished and achieved and answering the ultimate question: Should I Stay or Should I Go? (No reference to the song intended.)

This book was actually surprisingly short, or

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compact would be a better word, and that's my first positive. I like the fact that Gayle Forman didn't blow this topic up into a book that was 400 pages long and water down the point, and kept it to a nice amount; just over 200 pages. Short, but definitely sweet as well.

This is a really interesting book to read as it tackles a sense of achievement and also overcomes that stereotype against musicians that they can't have boyfriends who are into modern stuff (Adam) or they have no friends or they can't achieve anything in day to day life because it's a dying art. I like that.

I also like the fact that this wasn't a complete chick flick! This book doesn't start with 'Stephanie knew the boy next door. And he was the worst thing that ever happened…' because I find that stuff boring. Don't get me wrong, it was borderline, but it wasn't romance.

Negative? I was quite disappointed to see Where She Went available as well. You can't serialise this book, and part of me wonders if Where She Went was just a by-product of a publishing agreement. You're welcome to prove me wrong though.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, but I also fail to see how this can be sensibly adapted into a feature length film. Some production company wants to do it though, so I'll be waiting to see that eagerly.

•Buy this book at the Guardian Bookshop.

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Category: Review

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