Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: Paranormal, young adult, romance

Publisher: Speak

Publication Date:

Paperback: 234

Stand alone or series: First in a series

How did I get this book: Borrowed


Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from the back cover):

On a day that started like any other…

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 only 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.

What I thought:


Is that enough? Can I be done?

No? Okay, I’ll try to put into words how I feel.

I did not emotionally connect with this book. At all. There was one scene close to the middle that made me pretty sad, but mostly because I imagined what it would be like if that happened to me. I don’t want to give anything away, but I have a younger brother too, so I could relate. But I didn’t feel anything because the narrative made me feel that way, but rather because I could imagine it for myself.

Everything I read or heard about this book made it seem like I was going to cry and be devastated and that I would remember/be thinking about this book for a long time after I’d done reading it. In fact, the back cover quotes the Sacramento Bee as saying, “Long after its last moment, readers may find themselves dwelling on how the story resonates in their own lives.” Honestly, I doubt I’ll think about this book after I finish this review.

The “romance” in this novel is non-existent, at least to me, until the last 5 pages. The relationship has been having problems since the beginning; Mia actually says that. She says that her relationship with Adam started off rocky and that the last several months of their relationship has been problematic as well because they’ve been moving in different directions in life. Mia says that the middle of the relationship was wonderful; they were in love, blah blah blah. But the reader doesn’t actually see that.

Everything that the reader is supposed to feel in this novel is, I guess, implied, but even Mia doesn’t feel anything. In the state she’s in, she doesn’t feel: not the physical pain of her injuries nor the emotional pain of the tragedy that’s occurred. How in the world are WE supposed to feel anything if she doesn’t?? Seriously. I don’t get it. Also, you can’t tell me I’m supposed to be sad. You have to show me, you have to make me feel it through the narrative. I just didn’t, and, therefore, I didn’t connect.

I will say that If I Stay was an easy read. I read it quite quickly. For some reason I can’t actually explain, I will probably read the sequel. I guess it’s mostly because I’m curious. And because I know it’ll probably be as quick a read as this one was. The writing style was easy and simple, which was nice.

I honestly don’t know if maybe I just read this at the wrong time. Maybe after the other books I read this week, this one just didn’t live up to those or something. I do think this book was overrated, and that my opinion might have suffered from the hype surrounding it. It was not “devastating” as the synopsis said. Sad, sure, but only because of the subject matter and not from the way it made me feel. I was just kind of bored with it, to be honest.

The bottom line:

I couldn’t connect with this book. And if I can’t connect with it, I’m not going to like it.

Rating: 4 – Eh. This is bad.

Reading next: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Have you read this book? What did you think?

15 thoughts on “Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  1. Pingback: Review: Gayle Forman’s and Myra McEntire’s stories from My True Love Gave to Me | Caught Read Handed

  2. This has really put some of my thoughts about the book into perspective. I struggled with understanding how I felt about it, because no one else seemed to feel meh about it either. I was looking forward to the movie, but I’ve heard bad things, so I’ll wait for it to hit Netflix before watching it lol R x

    • Haha. I will probably do the same with the movie. Well, I’ll wait until it’s in Redbox and rent it for a dollar. Haha.
      I’m just glad I’m not the only one who felt so bleh about it, because most of the people I’d talked to before I read it just loved it.

  3. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Difficult Reads | Caught Read Handed

  4. Reading this book around three years ago and then reread it last year to see if I could actually like it second time around buuuut no. It’s one of those “all telling, no showing” and I couldn’t connect either. Like you said, there were said parts but it wasn’t one of those sad books that I felt in my gut and made me want to cry and write sad poetry. I read the second book and it was better but not the best by any means. Hope you like the second one if you decide to read it.

    • Good to know I shouldn’t try this book again in the future. Haha.
      Exactly. I didn’t feel any of the emotions in my gut. No connection for me at all.
      I think I’ll still try the second book but I’m not rushing to do it.
      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Books Everyone Loves, Except Me | A Bibliophile's Style

  6. Oh, so you’re actually the first person I’ve heard of who didn’t enjoy the book! I haven’t read it yet so I can’t really discuss it but it’s been on my wishlist for quite a long time (I think I’ll have it removed after this review 😀 ). I’ll probably just skip the book now and watch the movie instead. Anyways, great review!

    • I seem to be one of the few who didn’t like it. But if I don’t connect emotionally with a book, there’s no way I’ll like it. It’s a short and east read if you want to try it yourself. Less than 250 pages!
      Thank you!

  7. I couldn’t agree more! I read this based on the recommendation of a dear friend, and I was so disappointed! The first part was good, and the tragedy upset me (because, like you, I could imagine my family in that situation), but the rest of the book was dull. I didn’t even finish it – I just skimmed the back half. It took me awhile to trust book recs from my friend again (she won me back with Garth Nix’ Sabriel).

    • That’s my same situation. My friend lent me two books and told me to buy two. Out of the four, I liked two and didn’t like two. So at least I can still trust her recommendations. Well, 50% of them. Haha.
      I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t like this book. It seemed most people did.
      Thanks for reading my review! 🙂

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