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If I Stay Hardcover – April 2, 2009
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Pierced by the Sun
A gripping tale of murder and redemption by the author of Like Water for Chocolate. Learn More
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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.
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wanting to start the next book just too see what happens. Ends with you wondering if she's alive or not.Published 3 days ago by Kindle Customer
I absolutely loved this book and read it in one day! I seriously couldn't put it down I read it at the pool with my kids then while cooking dinner then grabbed a book light and... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Crystal
I enjoyed the movie first, and the book filled in details nicely.Published 11 days ago by Robert C. Price
SPOLIER ALERT: I'm a 20 year old girl who is still and will forever be in love with young adult novels. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Anh
Wonderful book. Really easy tro read. One of my favorite series. The second is even better than the first. I honestly could not put this book down. A true page turner. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Kindle Customer Ashley M.