If I Stay is a beautiful novel, but incredibly depressing. I enjoyed it immensely, but it’s definitely something you have to prepare yourself for. It is the story of Mia, who, caught between life and death, must choose if she wants to return to life and a world utterly changed, or drift softly and easily into death to escape the pain of the reality that awaits her in life. As she makes her decision, she flashes back to the happier moments of her life–moments with her family, friends, and boyfriend.
Again, I am struck by the overwhelming sadness of a novel. Why do we like to read these things? At the end, the reader is left with a bit of hope, but the second novel sounds depressing as well. Is it the feeling of Oh, thank God it isn’t me? Or do we identify a bit with the griefs and losses of the characters? In any case, people write these novels, and we read them and enjoy them, as is the case with this one. I read it in one sitting. It’s a quick but heavy read, and left my heart a bit sore. It also gave me a very strong desire to hug my family.
Mia is an interesting character, one I couldn’t figure out. She is neither popular nor nerdy. She is a cello enthusiast, though I’d stop short of saying prodigy. Perhaps others view her that way, but she does not think that of herself, and since it is her narration that creates the story, we’ll stick with her version of things, making her neither less nor more than she is. She is shocked when the cute punk musician boy, Adam, shows interest in her, despite the fact that he is not popular either. She has a fantastic relationship with her family, which is unusual for novels these days. She seems like a loner, and doesn’t like hanging out with her boyfriend, Adam’s, friends. Instead she mostly hangs out with one friend, Kim. She and Adam, honestly, seem a very strange couple, but his grief at her condition is incredibly real. For some reason, I just didn’t buy them as a couple, and it soured the story for me just a bit. Still, it was enjoyable to read about a normal girl with a normal life for once, instead of a girl with powers, or a girl with fangs, or a girl who is forced to learn to survive after the collapse of civilization. I love those kinds of books, but I also love books about regular girls.
The cover says, “For fans of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight [sic],” but it’s not like Twilight at all. I hate that they stick that crap on the cover just to sell books. For one thing, it is 100% more elegant than Twilight. The writing style is lovely–simple, but full of imagery and emotion. Mia is a good character, one that is somewhat admirable, and a little less dependent on a boy than some other characters *cough*cough* She knows she has her own life to live, even if it tears her away from the boy she loves–unlike other “heroines” who throw themselves from cliffs because a boy leaves her. Just sayin’…
Anyway. Good novel. Read it in a day because I had to know what she chose to do. Live or die? To be or not to be? That is the question that Mia must answer, and I think you’ll enjoy her beautiful journey to that decision.