Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.
Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.
I wanted to read this book before I watched the film (which came out on DVD yesterday), because I always feel that I connect more to the story and to the characters when it is written on a page.
This book was a real rollercoaster of emotions, both happy and sad crying ensued. As stated in the premise (above) the story itself is both tragic and hopeful all at the same time. Books about death and tragedy are difficult to review, because we all react to them in different ways. We bring our personal opinions and experiences in to the reading journey and it influences our thoughts on the story and the characters. I’m going to try my hardest to put down some coherent and meaningful thoughts, but forgive me is this is all just a jumble.
Mia is the protagonist in our story, following her on what has to be one of the longest nights of her (and eventually our) existence. At eighteen, Mia has a life that most teenage girls would pray for. She has two of the coolest parents; Kat and Denny , the sweetest little brother; Teddy, the most understanding best friend; Kim and a boyfriend; Adam, that you could only find in fiction. In only a few pages, her parents and brother are ripped from her life forever and Mia is left unconscious, fighting for hers.
This leaves Mia with a question; to stay or to go.
I can’t imagine ever having to make such a decision. After losing so many loved ones in such a short time, I can understand her feelings during certain parts of this book (below).
As you can probably tell from the above, Mia hits a very low spot. Very quickly. However this story also reminds us that our family crosses bloodlines. After losing her immediate family Mia questions her reason for staying. What is the point when those who loved her most have left her? But it leads her to realise just how much love she has in her life. The love from her grandparents who stay vigil by her bedside, the love of Adam and Kim, the love shown by her parents friends (who are basically like family) and even the love shown to her by some of the hospital staff. But I think that the main love that really leaves Mia questioning is her love of music.
Music is a very prominent feature in this story. And probably should have been mentioned sooner, but is one of the hardest parts that I find to write about. Music is personal to a lot of people in the world. We all have those songs that make us happy, sad, confused, lonely and a whole variety of different feelings. We all have connections to pieces of music in very different ways, and it’s one of those things that make us unique, but also brings us together.
Mia’s universe is surrounded in music. Her father played drums in a band, her mother followed music, her boyfriend plays for an up and coming band in the town and she herself is a maestro of the cello. Music is prevalent throughout. The family disagree over what to listen to in the car, the surgeon’s fight over what to play in the operating room, a Yo Ma Ma concert is watched, Shooting Star plays many a gig, summer camps are attended over many years and in the end I think music helps Mia make her decision.
Time is another key theme. This book is only 201 pages long so doesn’t actually take too long to read, I managed to sweep through it in just over 3 days. But the time in the story spans over a lifetime. Firstly, this book has no chapters. Each ‘section’ is split based on the time major events happen within the hospital. But within these sections we are taken back to past events that Mia feels are key to her current situation. We learn about her parents relationship, the birth of her brother, the blossoming relationship between her and Adam and her Julliard journey. They say that in a traumatic event your life flashes before your eyes. In Mia’s case it’s true. We learn so much about her past and the way that it influences her future and ultimately her decision.
Overall I’m in two mindsets about the ending of this book, I left a little disappointed. There was a way that this story was going to end in my mind, and I knew it was never going to happen that way, but it didn’t end the way that I thought it would either! I can’t in any way say whether or not I would make the same decision. And the idea that we get to decide is one that is truly baffling. If we get that decision then why do we lose so many people that we love? But Mia gets that choice, and her choice is her own. Sure there were outside influences, but in the end she makes it herself.
I’m looking forward to watching the film, mostly because I love all of Chloe Grace Moretz’s work, so will be getting my hands on the DVD soon. I will also be reading Gayle’s newest release ‘I Was Here’ once I have blitzed my current TBR list!
‘If I Stay’ does have a sequel called ‘Where She Went’, following on from the events of this book. I’m not sure if I’ll read it, solely because of my uncertainty of the ending and whether the sequel should even exist….take that as you will…