“Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.”
When Mia and her family go out for a drive that snowy morning, none of them realize everything is about to change in If I Stay (2009) by Gayle Forman. It was a freak accident. A random act. But suddenly, a truck swerves into their car. The next thing Mia knows she is staring down at the dead bodies of her mother and father. She can’t find her younger brother, Teddy. What Mia does find is her own broken body being rushed to a hospital.
Before the accident Mia had a lot of decisions to make about her future. Should she follow her first love–music–to Juilliard in New York? Should she stay on the West Coast to be with her boyfriend? But after the accident, Mia only has one choice. Should she stay?
Readers learn about Mia’s past while she tries to make this impossible decision. Present scenes of Mia watching her body at the hospital are interspersed with snapshot flashbacks of the life Mia used to have: discovering the Cello, meeting her best friend and her boyfriend, and memories of her idyllic family. Separated from the “current” story of the plot these segments could almost be jewel-like short stories on their own.
Mia’s relationship to music adds another dimension to the story and makes it a likely choice for musicians. The romantic aspect of the story is another strong point. Finally, it’s probably a really good choice for anyone who has found themselves waiting for good news outside and Intensive Care Unit.
I barely have enough words to say how much I loved If I Stay. Everything about this book is beautiful from the cover to last line. There was an authenticity to the hospital side of things that was simultaneously jarring and comforting. At the same time, this is also a wonderful story. Forman’s writing is lovely, evoking all of the characters in vivid detail throughout the story.While Mia’s loss is devastating, the story ultimately also has a calming quality that only helps to underscore the beauty of the writing and comfort readers that, no matter what her decision, Mia will find peace.
Possible Pairings: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson, The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban, Fracture by Megan Miranda, Road to Perdition (movie or graphic novel)