Then and Now Book Review: If I Stay

Title: If I Stay
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication: April 2nd, 2009
Publisher: Speak
Source: Borrowed from the Library

Rating: 4.5 out 5 stars

Synopsis: In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen-year-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. 

Review: This book has a background story for me. I read it when it first came out back in 2009 and I hated it. I never understood the hype surrounding this book. I disliked it so much that I was scared to read another book by Gayle Forman - my current self is like "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!". I don't regret giving her books another shot since I read Just One Day because that book (and Just One Year, Just One Night) are some of my favorites of all time. In fact, Just One Day was one of the first books I reviewed when I started blogging :) After reading those and wanting more of Gayle Forman, along with the movie coming out I decided to give If I Stay another try. And, of course, I'm so glad I did. 

Then (going into it): Like I mentioned, I read this one back in 2009 when it first came out and I have a hard time remembering, but I think there was quite a bit of hype surrounding this one. Back then I usually stayed away from books that would make me cry so I was hesitant to pick this one up. I think part of the reason I disliked it so much was because I went into it with high expectations based off all the good things I had hear about it.

Now (going into it): Going into the book I had no expectations, I knew certain things that happened from the previous time I read it, but I tried to take everything in stride and just read the book like I'd be reading it for the first time. I think I was pretty successful because I didn't feel much of a bias while reading that I thought I might. I actually found myself really enjoying the book. 

Then (the writing): I didn't have much appreciation or even distinction for writing. I didn't think about writing, I just either liked the story or not. I guess I attributed the writing as the story. 

Now (the writing): I love, love, love Gayle Forman's writing. Her writing makes the flow of this book so lovely. I read this one day, I didn't want to put it down and it wasn't because I had to know what was next, it was because I didn't want to stop reading the writing and the story that it delivered. 

Then (the characters): I disliked most of the characters the first time I read the book. But I LOVED Mia's family, her parents, grandparents, her brother, I loved every single one of them. They were my favorite part of the book the first time I read it. I thought Mia was weak-minded and while I could sympathize with her, I just didn't relate to her or find anything she did to be something that resonated with me in a good way. I remember Adam being an okay guy, but I wasn't impressed with him. 

Now (the characters): I love each of them in their own way. Mia was put in an incredibly tragic situation and had a lot to deal with throughout the book, and putting myself in her shoes made me feel for her. I felt for her and through her throughout this book. Her relationship with Adam was sweet this time around for me. And Adam...I love him (what is there not to love about Adam?!). Still love her family, they are one of my most favorite families that I have read in YA.

Then (the story): I remember distinctly hating the accident scene. And I was SO MAD. Here we were given this beautiful, wonderful family that I loved already and then tragedy struck them. I was devastated  This may have been the main reason I hated this book so much back when I first read it.

Now (the story): I am a bit speechless about the story, there's so much full of feels that I just don't know what to say. Okay, I'll try.. This time around the accident really struck me hard like it did the first time, even though I knew it was coming, but I think it didn't shock me as much as it did the first time. I braced myself for it. There were little bits along the way that struck harder for me. 

Now (overall): I really, really enjoyed this book. I might even love it, a little bit. I'm really glad that I gave this one a second chance. Now I'm excited to see the movie! I highly recommend this book to you if you enjoy contemporary, a good story or some fantastic writing, but be warned, you may want a box of tissues near you when you read this one. 

Have you read this one and if so, what did you think of it? What did you think about Mia's family ? Have you seen the movie yet, if so, HOW WAS IT??? :)


  1. I'm totally with you - the first time I read it, it was just... meh. I read it around 2009 as well, and I didn't understand the obsession. I sat down to re-read it before the movie came out and absolutely loooooooooooooooved it! I don't know what changed, but I'm glad it did. LOL

    Mia's family though.... gosh, I can't even think of them without wanting to cry. The movie was actually really, really good! I liked it a lot!

    Kristen @OCA

    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one to not really like the book the first time and love it the second time around!!! YES! Mia's family, so many feels! I'm SOO EXCITED to see the movie!


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