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If I Stay Paperback – April 6, 2010

Book 1 of 2 in the If I Stay Series

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014241543X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142415436
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5,427 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Interview with Gayle Forman

Q: You started your career as a journalist and your first book is a travelogue about going around the world. Is YA literature a departure for you?

Gayle Forman: Actually, it’s more of a homecoming. My first writing job was at Seventeen, where I spent five years on staff and as a contributor reporting the magazine’s social-issues stories. I loved writing for teens then because—contrary to popular opinion—they really care about serious issues (from child soldiers in Africa to kids embroiled in the drug war here) and the engage in their reading with such passion. So, now that I’m writing young-adult literature, it feels like I’ve come full circle.

Q: This book explores some serious themes. Why is this a book for kids and not adults?

GF: It’s a book for kids precisely because it explores serious themes. Teenagers are grappling with choices about life and love as much as adults, so why shouldn’t their reading reflect that? I don’t set out to write YA. It just seems like I’m drawn to stories about young people. That said, I think If I Stay is for adults, too. I love the idea of teens reading this book and then handing it off to their parents.

Q: Many key characters are serious musicians, and songs are referenced throughout the book. Are you a musician?

GF: No. Except for piano lessons when I was a kid and a brief spate of guitar playing in my teens, I’ve never played an instrument. I am, however, a huge music fan. And my husband is a musician; he was playing in a punk band when we met, so I’ve spent a lot of my life ensconced in that scene. I seem drawn to writing about musicians, though I’ve never been all that interested in the cello until Mia popped into my head.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

GF: Music. Oregon. People I have loved. And unfortunately, the book is inspired by a real-life tragedy that happened several years ago.

Q: This is a book about death, but it’s not depressing. Why is that?

GF: Maybe because it’s really about the power of love—of family, friends, music—and therefore it ultimately affirms life.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The last normal moment that Mia, a talented cellist, can remember is being in the car with her family. Then she is standing outside her body beside their mangled Buick and her parents' corpses, watching herself and her little brother being tended by paramedics. As she ponders her state (Am I dead? I actually have to ask myself this), Mia is whisked away to a hospital, where, her body in a coma, she reflects on the past and tries to decide whether to fight to live. Via Mia's thoughts and flashbacks, Forman (Sisters in Sanity) expertly explores the teenager's life, her passion for classical music and her strong relationships with her family, friends and boyfriend, Adam. Mia's singular perspective (which will recall Alice Sebold's adult novel, The Lovely Bones) also allows for powerful portraits of her friends and family as they cope: Please don't die. If you die, there's going to be one of those cheesy Princess Diana memorials at school, prays Mia's friend Kim. I know you'd hate that kind of thing. Intensely moving, the novel will force readers to take stock of their lives and the people and things that make them worth living. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I thought it was a great story and very well written.
Sportzchck "Liz"
Very emotional book, but sometimes it feels like her life was just too perfect, so it looks a bit too unrealistic at times.
Philippe
It is so beautifully written and absolutely a lovely and heartbreaking story.
Chloe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

377 of 413 people found the following review helpful By Mint910 VINE VOICE on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If I Stay is a bittersweet memory of a family and their loved ones. It's told through the eyes of Mia, who watches herself being treated in the hospital as her loved ones surround her. And she has to make the toughest choice of all...

I really love the way the story was told, while Mia is watching over her own body in the hospital she is reminded of memories of her family and friends and through that we got to know them better. It was beautiful how the story of her life unfolds. I absolutely adored her family and friends, everyone was their own character with specific traits and quirks, and what a loving family as well! That made me that much more emotionally invested in the story, they seemed so real.

For as much as this book falls into the heartbreaking and sad category it was actually rather funny at times! It made the book so much easier for me to read. I also loved how much music played a part of the story, Mia with her cello, her boyfriend Adam with his band and her father's days in a band as well. Music was a beautiful background for this story.

All in all a bittersweet and rewarding book! I'm not always one for sad books but recently I've been finding out that there are some I actually really love and this is definitely one of them!
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741 of 862 people found the following review helpful By BW-KD on September 12, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading all the reviews here, I was expecting to read a beautiful, masterful, moving story. Instead, what I got was the distinct feeling that I was reading a Young Adult book geared towards the 12-16 year old female demographic. Warning: This may be the harshest review I've ever written about anything. Ever. So don't read on if you've decided you're going to feel personally offended by an opposing viewpoint.

I understand that this tale is being told through the voice of a teen girl, hence the naive and youthful tone, but I really feel it could've been done in a more lyrical, artistic way. I was expecting something along the lines of Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" -- which was literary art. It was transcendent. However, listening to Mia's "thoughts" was like nails on a chalkboard for me. Listening to a pretentious 17-year-old girl who lacks any real depth because her life has been SO charmed really grated on my nerves. I didn't care about any of the characters -- none were particularly likable because they were all so cliche'd and caricature-ish. I was irritated to the point of exhaustion by constantly hearing how awesomely fun and rad and liberal the parents were (it's like, WE GET IT ALREADY! The parents were ex-rock star hipsters! How surprising and unexpected!). And Mia's boyfriend is a handsome and famous rock star himself who -- gasp! -- surprises everyone by actually falling in love with her even though she's just a "nerdy" Juilliard-bound classical musician! Wow, what a hip dichotomy! Mia's backstory reads like a condescending junior-high romance novel, or a very bad Nickleodeon sitcom.
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179 of 217 people found the following review helpful By Jenny, Wondrous Reads on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have a feeling that If I Stay may be one of those books that sells millions of copies, wins numerous awards, and inspires people to pick up a pen and tell a story of their own.

It starts off with a lighthearted chapter that showcases the close relationship Mia shares with her Mum, Dad and younger brother Teddy. I instantly fell in love with these four characters, as they reminded me very much of my own parents and sister: happy, fun, and more like friends than family. However, by page eleven, the tone of the book shifts, and everything has changed.

Mia is left staring at her broken body, while her family lie sprawled around her. She finds herself in a kind of limbo, a limbo where she can see, hear and touch, but can't feel anything. From here she must make the difficult decision of staying on Earth and living, or dying and hopefully seeing her family again. This has to be one of the most difficult decisions anyone could ever be faced with, and I applaud Gayle Forman for writing about it so eloquently and vividly.

I loved how the past was interweaved with the present, as this allowed us to get a glimpse into Mia's life before the accident, and to really get to know her. Mia is a strong and appealing character, and one which I think a lot of people will identify with. I also have to mention Adam, Mia's boyfriend. He's caring, thoughtful and the kind of person that we should all get to meet at some point or another. In fact, I think he might be my favourite part of the whole book.

'Just Listen', Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

The above sentence is one of my favourites. To imagine that anyone's voice could sound like shrapnel has to be one of the most effective ways to describe someone dealing with unimaginable grief and fear.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Whitney Underwood on June 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If I were to be somewhere between life and death and decided to stay, this book would not be on my "Read Again Before I Really Die" list.

I had several problems with the overall plot and the mixed bag of flat characters, the flattest of which were Mia and Adam, whom the book was basically built around. The plot sounded interesting to me, Mia is in a car accident with her family and is critically wounded when she has an out of body experience and realizes that she gets to choose if she wants to stay with the living or move on to what is next. It was so poorly explored, though, and made very little sense- the author spent more time trying to develop the love story than trying to fully develop the concept of the strange Limbo Mia was in.

My other issues were the parents in the book- the cliché "Everything you want to do is awesome!" parents. They are hipsters and ex-rockers who curse all of the time in a very forced way and are extremely permissive in ways that are beyond that of parents who genuinely care about the wellbeing of their children. Drinking, partying all night, sex, and intense relationships at 15 is A-OK with these guys- they'll even tell you a story from the good old days about it while you're hung over. It just wasn't believable to me- I wanted to see great parents who actually parented at least a little in order to make them believable.

Mia is my biggest problem. She is very much like the Bella Swan whining, moping, woe-is-me-ing female character that I hate reading. She's empty (except for her cello, who was a better character than most of the others in this book), shallow, and I couldn't connect with her (even though I was a teen girl in the not-too-distant past). I didn't feel even a hint of sadness when the book is supposed to be fraught with emotional turmoil because it is all seen through Mia's eyes, and she's totally unbelievable.
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More About the Author

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Seventeen, Cosmopolitan and Elle in the US. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

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