Friday, May 25, 2012

27. If I Stay

Book #27: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: April 2, 2009
234 Pages
3 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

Death. Music. Love. This book has Rock 'N' Roll written all over it. And just like a song, life can be short and over before you're ready for it to be. Mia's life changes in an instant. A car crash and everything is lost. Out of her body and watching all her loved ones praying for her to wake up, Mia has to decided if she should stay or go.

As we know, I've become intrigued (maybe obsessed) with books about death, where the main character is either in the middle of something traumatic or already dead and gone, yet still holing on to something she can't quite grasp. Before I Fall sucked me in and The Catastrophic History of You and Me held me there. Slip in some music references, a cute guy in a band, and heart breaking trauma, and I'm in. The book takes place while Mia is in a coma, listening as the doctors tell her family that it's up to her whether she wakes up. Forman breaks up the depressing hospital scenes by inserting memories as Mia contemplates her life. We learn about her family, friends and boyfriend through the course of one night as she tries to make a decision. The memories flow smoothly, connecting with something that Mia has either seen or heard whilst out of her body. We learn why she may not want to stay, but also the reasons why she definitely should.

Music moves in and out of her thoughts as she wonders the hospital. She gets to catch an inside look at those she knows best, and finds out more about herself in the process. Mia plays the cello, listens to classical music in a house full of rockers, and is dating the lead singer of a rock band. She doesn't quite fit in, yet in some ways that's why she fits in so well. She is certainly not a follower. She lives her life the way she wants to, and the relationships she has with her family and boyfriend just go to show that music holds us together more than we know. We may not even like the same music, but music is the same for everyone. It makes us all feel the same emotions, same joy, sadness, heart break, no matter who we are or what we do.

If I had had the time to read it in one sitting, I would have, and I feel like the reason it didn't captivate me as much as it could have was because it took me over a week to read it. When I'd pick it up again, I'd have to remind myself what had just happened, especially since it takes place in the course of a day and there aren't really chapter breaks, just a timeline. I didn't get into it enough to cry, to feel for Mia the way I know I should have. The tragedy that she's just gone through is something that no one should ever have to experience and Forman wrote it in a way that you know exactly how she feels. We know exactly how much this hurts her and why her decision is so hard to make. I may pick it up again and reread it eventually, just so I can get the full cadence of this beautiful, terrifying story. And I've already bought the sequel and I'm eager to learn what happens after Mia has made her choice.

“And that's just it, isn't it? That's how we manage to survive the loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.” 

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