Forman, Gayle. If I Stay. Penguin Group 2009 ISBN: 9780525421030
If I Stay
Written by: Gayle Forman
Reviewed by: Jane Tran
Recommended Audience: High School
Mia, an ordinary seventeen-year-old girl, was taking a trip with her family to her grandparents’ house for the once in a while family dinner night. However, the trip turned out to be a life changing event for Mia and her family. In an instant everything that she used to know or thought she knew was gone. Her life and that of her family including her parents and her brother was shattered by a horrible accident that very night. An accident that forced Mia to make decisions affecting her and the ones she loved so dearly.
Mia regained consciousness when she heard her favorite Beethoven song playing on the radio of the car, which was severely damaged. She woke up finding herself laying in a ditch hearing the Beethoven song broadcasting on the radio. Her mind was blank, everything happened so fast and so suddenly it was impossible for her head to process everything. She stood up and instinctively went to check on her family to see if anyone had been hurt. She saw her dad laying a few feet away from her mother. Her parents’ body lay there motionless and lifeless on the snowy ground. The white color of the snow turned slowly into a dark pink because of the blood from her parents’ body. Mia continued to walk around the accident scene trying to find her brother but stumbled on a body that set her back in shock. She stared at the body trying to understand what just had happened, she was motionless and just gazed at what she had discovered. Could it be? Was it possible? Mia discovered her own body in a puddle of her own blood. She was badly injured, skin and bone exposed from the fire. Mia was overcome with confusion and disbelief. How could she lay there in her own blood? Was she dreaming, and if so she wants to wake up! This is where Mia’s journey began, a life changing journey searching for reasons why things happened the way they did and who she was and will be.
Mia is in a coma and the doctors do not know when or if she will wake up. She sees how everyone around her is reacting to the accident but something seems to be off. Mia is persistently troubled by flashbacks, bringing her back to how things were with her parents and brother before the accident. It reminded her of her beautiful and carefree life when her family and playing the cello meant everything to her. Mia is experiencing an out of body experience while being in a coma. However, the problem with that is not how she sees others talking about her but that they do not talk about her parents and her younger brother. She still remembered how she discovered her parents’ body but never the body of her brother. That’s when it hits her! Nobody in that car survived the accident but her. She was the sole survivor, a survivor who had lost everything but her unconscious mind that kept reminding her of the good times.
Throughout the story Mia struggles with the decision of letting go and joining her family, or fight with whatever is left in her to start a new life. While in the coma she could feel the love and care of her grandparents, she could feel how they would support her no matter what she decided to do. She knew in her heart that her grandparents didn’t want her to go, but at the same time Mia felt that there was nothing left in this world for her. Everything she loved and knew was taken away in split second. But she was so young, only seventeen years old and a whole life ahead of her. Yes, things will be painful for her but there are so many things to look forward to. She still has her grandparents, her friends, her talent and love for music; she had her whole life ahead of her.
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