12 reviews

If I Stay
by Gayle Forman

Published: 2009-03-24
Kindle Edition : 320 pages
27 members reading this now
29 clubs reading this now
23 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 8 of 12 members
The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She Went, Just One Day, and Just One Year.

Soon to be a major motion picture, starring Chloe Moretz!

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can ...
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The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She Went, Just One Day, and Just One Year.

Soon to be a major motion picture, starring Chloe Moretz!

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. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.

Editorial Review

An Interview with Gayle Forman

Q: You started your career as a journalist and your first book is a travelogue about going around the world. Is YA literature a departure for you?

Gayle Forman: Actually, itâ??s more of a homecoming. My first writing job was at Seventeen, where I spent five years on staff and as a contributor reporting the magazineâ??s social-issues stories. I loved writing for teens then becauseâ??contrary to popular opinionâ??they really care about serious issues (from child soldiers in Africa to kids embroiled in the drug war here) and the engage in their reading with such passion. So, now that Iâ??m writing young-adult literature, it feels like Iâ??ve come full circle.

Q: This book explores some serious themes. Why is this a book for kids and not adults?

GF: Itâ??s a book for kids precisely because it explores serious themes. Teenagers are grappling with choices about life and love as much as adults, so why shouldnâ??t their reading reflect that? I donâ??t set out to write YA. It just seems like Iâ??m drawn to stories about young people. That said, I think If I Stay is for adults, too. I love the idea of teens reading this book and then handing it off to their parents.

Q: Many key characters are serious musicians, and songs are referenced throughout the book. Are you a musician?

GF: No. Except for piano lessons when I was a kid and a brief spate of guitar playing in my teens, Iâ??ve never played an instrument. I am, however, a huge music fan. And my husband is a musician; he was playing in a punk band when we met, so Iâ??ve spent a lot of my life ensconced in that scene. I seem drawn to writing about musicians, though Iâ??ve never been all that interested in the cello until Mia popped into my head.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

GF: Music. Oregon. People I have loved. And unfortunately, the book is inspired by a real-life tragedy that happened several years ago.

Q: This is a book about death, but itâ??s not depressing. Why is that?

GF: Maybe because itâ??s really about the power of loveâ??of family, friends, musicâ??and therefore it ultimately affirms life.


7:09 a.m.
Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.

I wake up this morning to a thin blanket of white covering our front lawn. It isn’t even an inch, but in this part of Oregon a slight dusting brings everything to a standstill as the one snowplow in the county gets busy clearing the roads. It is wet water that drops from the sky—and drops and drops and drops—not the frozen kind. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

1.Compare and contrast a point in your life when you felt you controlled your future with a time when you felt powerless.
2.Describe a situation when you gave up something in your life. Why did you do it? How did giving it up make you feel?
3.How much control do we have over our own destiny? What coping skills help us deal with personal tragedy?
4.Discuss the meanings of “sacrifice” and of “choice.” How are they different? How are they similar?
5.Discuss the use of point of view in the story. To continue the first person, present tense, point of view introduced in the opening scene, the writer has Mia narrate the story in an unusual way. Why might the author have chosen this technique instead of writing the entire story from third person
point of view?
6 Forman makes extended use of flashback to tell the story. Explain how the flashback scenes help us understand Mia’s thoughts about living or dying.
7. If I Stay is a superb example of internal conflict. Cite passages from the story that speak the strongest to Mia’s struggle.
8.Could the story have been titled If I Leave? Why or why not?

Suggested by Members

How strong are your beliefs in life after death?
If faced with the same issue, what would your choice be?
Would it matter if she was a mother and had lost her children instead of her family?
by mkrupiak (see profile) 08/15/14

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Book Reviews & Praise:

A New York Times Bestseller

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

“Will appeal to fans of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.” – USA TODAY

"The brilliance of the book is the simplicity."

– Wall Street Journal

"I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn't be captivated by [this novel.] Gayle's insight into teens and her exploration of the many facets of love and family are hard to forget."– Family Circle

"A teen book that will stay with you – even if you’re not a teen."– San Franicsco Chronicle

"If I Stay" throbs with love and tragedy. And the dilemma of choice. Long after its last moment, readers may find themselves dwelling on how the story resonates in their own lives."– Sacramento Bee

"Forman squarely nails the types of questions teens find fascinating."– Chicago Sun Times

"Heartbreaking and gorgeously written…Warning: This will definitely make you cry." – San Jose Mercury News

"Beautifully written."– Entertainment Weekly

"[A] beautiful novel."– Los Angeles Times

“Graceful, imaginative and haunting, If I Stay is both a page-turner and a gentle, satisfying read.” -Patricia McCormick, author of National Book Award Finalist Sold

"Intensely moving, the novel will force readers to take stock of their lives and the people and things that make them worth living."-Publishers Weekly, starred review

Dear Reader,

So, if someone were to describe my book IF I STAY to me—17-year-old girl goes out for a drive with her family, tragedy strikes, she finds herself as a ghost-like outsider to her critically injured body as she’s rushed to the hospital and attempts to decide whether to live or die—I’d think: Major Downer. And to be sure, there are Kleenex moments. But the thing about this book, the thing readers keep telling me, is that it’s sad in places (hence the Kleenex) but that in other spots, you’ll be cracking up. And that at the end of the book, you’ll find yourself feeling really hopeful and uplifted and paying attention to all the things that matter in your own life.

Why is that? Sad stuff happens to Mia, the 17-year-old cello player who’s the book’s heroine. But a lot of funny and happy things happen, too, as Mia relives her first kiss with her swoon-worthy boyfriend, Adam, her fistfight with her best friend, Kim, her obsession with cello, her relationship with her supercool punk-rock parents and her ebullient little brother. At the end of the day, I think this is really a book about love. And what’s not to love about that?

I spend most of my working life alone at a desk so I'm always thrilled—no, seriously it makes my day—to talk to book clubs, be it in person or via the interwebs (live chats or Q&As). Mosey on over to my web site and drop me a line if you're interested in me visiting your book club.

Stop by www.gayleforman.com or visit me on Facebook to say hi or learn more.



Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Abby U. (see profile) 08/06/19

by Cynthia B. (see profile) 03/24/15

  "If I Stay"by Jill F. (see profile) 11/23/14

It was a very short book that was a bit disappointing. It did not explore several ideas that our book club thought would make for a more intriguing story.

  "If I Stay"by Marty K. (see profile) 08/15/14

I loved this story. I think it opens the dialogue of what one would do if you were given the opportunity to stay in a life where you know you will face the pain of loss, but you have the hope of love,... (read more)

  "If I Should Stay"by Nancy L. (see profile) 05/31/12

Ms. Forman did a great job with conveying the emotions of this teen and spreading it to an adult audience. She captured the essence and attitude of Mia in her inbetween world and the decisions she would... (read more)

  "good read"by Melissa V. (see profile) 03/02/11

  "Touching Story Told With A Unique Voice"by Jodie B. (see profile) 02/12/11

A touching story told with a unique voice, that begins with a moment that changes everything.

  "You should "stay" to read this book"by Toni B. (see profile) 01/20/11

This book is inspiring. It was an easy read and I liked how it floated between the "two" of her. (I don't want to give anything away here) The story grew as time went on and you could love all the quirks... (read more)

  "If I Stay"by Sarah M. (see profile) 01/05/11

Had no idea what the end would be...

  "If I Stay"by Kristin K. (see profile) 12/01/10

I would not recommend this book to clubs. It made for poor discussion as the book did not have a lot of depth to it. Quick read and a young read.

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