Final Ruling: 4/5 stars
Let me start by saying that this book got an insane amount of hype, so perhaps my picture of it in my head to begin with was the primary source of the slight disappointment I experienced at the hands of this book. The story itself is lovely and poignant, and fed a secret desire inside me that I didn’t even realize I had until I finished reading If I Stay.However, there are, in fact, many glaring faults in this story that led to my merely ‘good’ experience reading it.
Let’s begin with the most obviously wonderful part of this book: the love story. Mia and Adam are so wonderfully contradictory and perfect, it almost seems as if them being together was as inevitable as Mia’s car crash. The rocker and the classical musician. *sigh* how dreamy is that?! Maybe it’s because I’m a musician or maybe its because it was so beyond wonderful to see them bring out the best in one another, as opposed to them being in a borderline toxic relationship, as is the case with most romance novels. It could not have been more picture perfect, that is, until the car crash.
Speaking of the car crash, this was one of the book’s most glaring faults: it was so obviously cry-bait. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good tear-jerker every once in awhile, but at times, it felt like the author was trying too hard to get this response, making some of the moments that should have been lovely and heart-wrenching seem forced. Yes, the story was beautiful, and yes, it was very sad, but sometimes the commentary within was unnecessary and obviously meant specifically to make people cry. In spite of this, it was quite lovely, and I do, indeed, find myself largely overlooking the cry-bait staring me in the face.
One of the reasons I could overlook the faults of the book was the powerful powerful message about choices and their repercussions. Now, most people today make largely insignificant choices, and some of those choices we don’t even think about. Forman magnifies this, turning it into a choice between life and death. The pros and cons run through Mia’s mind, and it is all of those small things that factor into the ultimate choice that make it so heart-wrenching and thought provoking. Forman’s use of this colossal choice in the face of the small moments forces the reader to look inward, to weigh their own pros and cons, and even to better appreciate the small moments of their life, because, as Forman so eloquently showcases, you never know which moment will be your last.
Speaking of last moments, If I Stay revealed a strange and secret question that has been buried in my mind for years: how will people react if I died? Who would care? Who would show up at the hospital and trick nurses just to get a glimpse of me? Mia’s entire family and support system shows up for her, family and friends alike, and it makes me wonder, would mine do the same?
I would recommend this book to those who aren’t afraid to think long and hard about their life and their choices, as well as to anyone in need of a good long tearful existential crisis.