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If I Stay Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 2, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 6,511 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the If I Stay Series

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 2, 2009
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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.

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.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (April 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525421033
  • ASIN: B004R96SPQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6,511 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,180,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had such high expectations for this book. I just couldn't connect with this book past the accident. I felt the author baited us with the vivid unfolding of the crash then switched. I was there with Mia in the early events of the accident. Then she lost me. The book lost me. I couldn't invest emotionally into any of the characters because not much was expounded upon besides what the author kept beating into the dead horse; mom and dad are punk rockers who slid without a fight into parenthood. Dad was a slacker who woke up one day and decided to be the polar opposite of a slacker. Mom was the tough cookie who loved the Peter Pan Dad until she made him change. Mia was so alone, even with such a present and accepting family, that she made problems where there were none. 'I'm the misfit because I don't look like my family. I'm odd man out because of my preference of music. My boyfriend likes me just the way I am. My best friend is honest with me. I'm a promising cellist who may go to Juilliard.' Her problems just felt so forced. And not teen angst forced, just forced. More than once I wanted to put the book down because of the emotional jails Mia confined herself to. The only time I teared up was when her Gramps cried. Other than that, this book does nothing but give YA readers the ammunition they need to feel that the world should revolve around them even when they've lost their entire family. Or that their parents aren't nearly as cool as Mia's. Who let her smoke, drink, have sex, and stay out with her drunk boyfriend until the wee hours of the morning. I also felt the back and forth of the flashbacks were too unnecessary. It made the tempo of the story 'sticky'. I never experienced the gut wrenching decision Mia had to make because there weren't enough heartfelt back stories between she and her family. I just wanted it to pull me in and it didn't.
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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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