A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice one teenage girl commands, this emotionally arresting novel is sure to captivate readers.A critically acclaimed novel that will change the way you look at life, love, and family.
In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeenyear-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.
I have had If I Stay by Gayle Foreman on my bookshelf for a little while now. I am so glad I finally made the time to read it! Although, fitting in reading time the first few days was not easy…thanks to three children, a husband, groceries, responsibilities and contractors. Seriously, I try to ditch “work” all the time to read and the work just keeps hunting me down. BUT, I finally won and read If I Stay in one full day! I don’t know that I would necessarily consider this a “review” of the book, I think I am just going to share with you how I felt while reading the book.
I lost count of how many times I cried while reading this book. Holy cow! I felt like I was transported back to 1987…when my best friend was lying in ICU after being involved in a serious car accident. He was just 16 years old. He was awesome, talented, loving and just wonderful. You see, he and I were talking about him coming over to my house to hang out. I kind of was hoping a guy I was crushing on at the time was going to come by and his girlfriend wasn’t always fond of him hanging out and some of his other friends wanted to go out…so we carried on with other plans. Story had it that our classmate, who was driving, thought an animals was in the road so he swerved. When he swerved he hit some ice on the side of the road and that sent the Jeep into a utility pole, crushing the passenger side.
Several surgeries, amputation, resuscitated back to life on several occasions, he endured so much during the week that followed the accident. I remember his parents telling me to come up to the hospital. I brought him a stuffed animal (?) and my sister drove me into the “city” to the hospital. I remember sitting in the waiting room, much like Mia’s family, waiting. No words really spoken, just pain, tears and grief flecked with hope. I look back and can see it as clearly as it happened. His mother had come out to get me to take me to see him. I could feel him all around me. I take a little comfort from If I Stay and confirm that he was there with me, watching, waiting. After hugging his mother we began the walk to where he was. Through one set of doors, to a station of sorts stopped in front of another set of doors. They were solid, I couldn’t see what was behind them. It was so quiet. We stopped moving, she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t let me see him. He wasn’t who he had been, he was nearly unrecognizable. His picture, I was told, was on his bed so that the doctors and nurses could see the young man he really was. His mom didn’t want the image of him there, in the hospital bed, wounded, swollen, invaded by tubes and machines, to be the image that forever became my memory of a friend, a brother really, that I held so dear. I respected her wishes. She was just as much my mom and I know she knew best.
I was devastated. I wanted to hold him. Tell him I loved him. Talk him into staying, I needed him. It was selfish really, I wanted my friend, my confidant. I wanted him to know I was there. I know that he did, I felt that. I wanted everything to be the way it was before the accident. I wanted him to come over that Sunday, have my mom make pizza and watch a little Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. Maybe play a little Atari. I forever see him sliding through my kitchen, his socks falling off his feet, my mom getting on him for snagging food off of the counter and him standing over her laughing asking what she was going to do (she was only 4’11” ).
The connection that Mia and Adam had reminded me of my friend and I. Aside from the dating…although, I will never forget the few kisses that we tried…and were creeped out because we were too much like family. We were blood brothers. We made that pact while hunting for cougars in the woods. We never found any, I don’t know that they even existed. But that was the beauty of our friendship. We could spend days doing something like that. Hanging out in the woods digging up arrowheads, dinosaur bones, hunting, solving unsolved mysteries, whatever our minds could think of. Friends like that don’t come into your life often and when they do, they are truly gifts from God. To have them be taken is truly devastating.
Reading If I Stay left me swimming in emotion. I felt for Mia, Adam and their friends and family. The insecurities, the connection, the fears, the friendship, the love and in the end, the grief. It felt good to remember. To feel. There hasn’t been a day since February 7, 1987 that I haven’t felt the presence of him or thought of him. I wonder if he was given a choice. I know he fought, he died several times, medically speaking, he came back. Was he trying to choose? Was he waiting for something? Was he waiting to know that those he loved and worried about were going to be okay? Is that how it works? I don’t know, I don’t know that anyone really “knows”. I like the options that Gayle has provided through her writing. I’ll take that.
If I Stay was a wonderful read. Only one other story that I have come across has captured my friendship and relationship with my friend and that was “My Girl”. If I Stay is now considered my comfort book. I suggest you take the time to read If I Stay. It will leave you filled with emotions you didn’t know existed. The connection to the characters will come without effort or warning. If I Stay is a must have for everyone.
Thanks for reading,