If I Stay ... Young Adult Review

If I Stay
by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton
April 2009

One Sentence Synopsis: After a car crash on an icy road kills her entire family, critically injured, 17-year-old Mia must choose whether to live or die.

School was cancelled due to a light snow, so Mia and her family decided to visit friends. But in one terrible moment, her family is taken from her, and Mia is left, near death, along the side of the road. An ambulance gets her to the hospital, and from there Mia’s story alternates between flashbacks and the next 24 hours, where she lies comatose and on life support. Employing a skillful literary device similar to the popular "dead narrator," Ms. Forman allows Mia’s spirit to disconnected from her body, enabling her to experience the present moment, and to witness people’s reactions to seeing her in her hospital bed. These moments trigger flashbacks that explain Mia’s relationships to her worried friends and relatives and boyfriend—all of whom stop at nothing to encourage her recovery.

This book gripped me from page one and never let me go. After all she lost, would Mia choose to go and be with her family in death? Or would she choose to face a grim future without them, but have the strength to remain alive and rebuild her life with her friends and boyfriend? With enormous skill, Ms. Forman made a case for either choice. I would’ve accepted either, and was unable to truly guess which one Mia would make, until reading it on the last page.

Who should read this book? Anyone who enjoys lyrical language; interesting, finely contrasted and well-developed characters; and a powerful, thought-provoking story question. This book is a page-turner, and intensely moving. Keep some tissues nearby.

If you read it, what did you think? If your entire family was taken from you, would you still want to go on? What are some of the things you live for, apart from your family? Do you have any special talents? (Mia was on her way to becoming a famous cellist.) Do you have a significant other? (Mia’s punk-rock singer boyfriend, Adam, loved her as much as she loved him.)

I loved this book!
Visit Gayle Forman's website.
Buy it at Amazon.
OR check it out at your local LIBRARY.


  1. I got this from the library & was trying to decide whether I had time to read it vs. other books that are due back soon, but I will try to squeeze it in! Thanks for the review.

  2. Kelly, if you read it and like it a lot, you might also read (if you haven't already)Before I Die, by Jennie Dunham. It came out a year or two ago, and it's similar in a number of ways. Happy Reading!


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