If I Stay by Gayle Forman

by Victoria

Music to My Ears

I like to think of myself as a generally cheerful person. That’s why I tend to veer away from anything depressing. I don’t like to be reminded of the sorrow and pain that goes on in our world. I dubbed the news “the bad news” because there never seems to be anything good on it. My denial goes so far that it stops me from reading or watching movies with a sad undertone. Yet, once in a while, I will let something unhappy fall into the bubble of sunshine I work hard to maintain. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is one of those books. I cannot bring myself to regret reading this captivating tale, because it revealed a world that I tried to pretend didn’t exist.

Seventeen year old Mia’s world is overrun with choices. Her love of music threatens to pull her away from her family and friends. She wants to take her talents across the country to New York City. She wants to play in Lincoln Center and feel the power of commanding an audience with nothing more than a cello. She wants to be a musician.

But, then there is another part of her that rejects the idea. It pulls her away from the glitz and glamour of the City and keeps her with her family. She wants to stay with them. She wants to spend time with her best friend. She wants to hold onto her boyfriend, Adam, for as long as she possibly can. She doesn’t want to let go.

Mia’s life is ripping at the seams, torn between Oregon and New York. A fresh start or an old home. Her love for music or her love for her family and friends. Could she sacrifice one in exchange for the other without breaking her heart in the process?

Suddenly, that doesn’t matter anymore. A tragic accident changes everything in a blink of an eye. If I Stay by Gayle Forman is not the kind of book you pick up for light reading. You must proceed with caution, care, and tissues.

These precautions don’t mean you shouldn’t read it, though. The writing is beautiful, and Mia truly leaps off the page. The struggle to choose between one love or another is often poked fun at in romantic comedies. Yet, they no longer seem funny after you see the struggle through Mia’s eyes. Gayle Forman weaves this tale in such a way that you are forced to decide with Mia. She makes the reader feel the agony of this decision and the bittersweet relief of finally making a choice.

If I Stay truly puts life in perspective. It ripped me out of my comfortable happy life, and into a world filled with the melancholy sound of Mia’s cello. Truly, the best way to describe this novel is through music. The screeching tune of conflict scratches at our ears and makes us beg for resolution. Then, suddenly, the chords blend together. The stars are aligned to form a happy ending. If I Stay proves that only through conflict can we really appreciate the harmonious sounds of true happiness.

Victoria Testa lives in New York City but is a beach bum at heart. When not writing or reading, she can be found surfing, swimming, and singing!

One thought on “If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  1. I just recently read this and must say I too was surprised by how much I was drawn into Mia’s world. As a middle school teacher, I think many of my students face a similar question – though not in the same literal experience. While we may idealize individual students’ situations by combining the best parts of each one, this book was a stark reminder to me of realities my students may be facing. Sorta makes me rethink the touchy-feely writing invitations I offer…

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