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If I Stay Paperback – April 6, 2010
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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 the Audio CD edition.
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 the Audio CD edition.
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Forman does not tug on my heartstrings, she has never invoked the slightest of tears. This may be because I have never liked her characters. I do not like Mia. I do not like Adam. Adam is pretty much as emo as you can get. Yes, I get it. He's been through pain. If this novel were about something else, and the pain was just one aspect on the book, perhaps I could sympathize. But it was entirely about Adam wallowing and that wasn't entertaining to me. I had the same problem with If I Stay. It just wasn't entertaining to me.
There are a million reviews out there singing this novel's praises, for I am severely in the minority. Really, this review (however imprecise and concise it may be), is nothing more than my informal opinion of it. Do I think this is a bad book? No, I think it has substance and the prose is poetic. But did I enjoy this book? Not really. It couldn't engage me and I will most likely forget about it in a matter of weeks.
Go ahead, love Adam. I won't be joining you
It was a long time after I read If I Stay before I read Where She Went. I was scared! If I Stay crushed my heart and had me ugly crying for the majority of the book. I wasn't sure if I was ever going to be emotionally read for Where She Went. Then I got it from the library so I sort of had to read it before I returned it. :)
Where She Went takes place 3 years after If I Stay (3!!!). When I initially saw the synopsis, I was just thinking "what the crap?!" Anyway, Mia has been pursuing her music at Juilliard and Adam's band has taken off and reached rock star status. This story is told in Adam's POV and you see his turmoil during these years without Mia. God, it broke my heart.
By a twist of fate, Adam and Mia meet in New York after all that time and explore the city together before they each have to leave the next day. I enjoyed seeing how they interacted but they kept dancing around the big elephant in the room -- like, hey Mia, why did you go and break my effing heart?
I think I was mad at Mia for a large part of this book and it detracted from how I felt about the story. Of course the book was emotional, especially the flashbacks and seeing what Adam went through. However, while emotional and while I teared up in a few parts, it wasn't as soul crushing as If I Stay.
Adam Wilde. Oh Adam. My heart ached and I just wanted to hold him for most of the book. I loved that it was in his POV. Was there ever such a perfect boy? One of my favorite aspects of this book was the music and each chapter opened with a snippet of lyrics from one of his songs. It added a lot to the story since the majority of his music is about what he's feeling. It made me wish Adam was REAL so I could go and buy his album because I want to listen to it!!
I really enjoyed this emotional addition to Adam and Mia's story but I think I liked If I Stay more. Maybe If I Stay touched me more or maybe I was just upset at Mia for too long. However, all that to say, Where She Went was still amazing. It was emotional, intense, and Adam and Mia's love story really is one of a kind. They are just perfect. :)