Review: If I Stay

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. Heart wrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family.

I first read this book back in 2009 when it was published, and after a reread of it twelve years later, I still love how emotional this book is.

Mia and her family are involved in a fatal accident, leaving Mia as the only survivor in her family, and in a coma fighting for her life. She has the weird experience of being able to witness everything going on around her, including seeing herself be recovered from the accident scene and her family’s grief as they learn the news and wait to find out what will happen to her. Then Mia learns that she gets to choose what happens to her – if she stays or if she moves on to join her parents and little brother once again.

Not only is the present story being told, but Mia narrates flashbacks in her life that pertain to her family, best friend, and boyfriend as she makes the decision to fight for her life or not. The moments that take place in the past give more emotional depth as we learn how much she loves her family and friends, as well as her hopes for her future as a cellist. It makes her decision a hard one; because how can you choose to stay when you know your life is going to be completely different than before? But at the same time, how can you choose to leave your remaining loved ones behind?

Either way, Mia has something to gain and something to lose.

Reading through Mia’s story (a second time) I can’t imagine how someone can make that decision. I think that’s why the author wrote this story the way she did to include the past as a tie-in with Mia’s coma as a way to aide Mia into making her decision. It showed both sides of the coin. And there were moments with her family as they talked to her in her comatose state that just made me tear up. There’s just so much love in this book between all the characters.

It’s a book that’s both devastating and heartwarming, so I can’t not give it all the stars or recommend it enough. I’m glad I decided to reread this book, even if it was just so I could read the sequel that I forgot existed.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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