Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I stay What would you do if you had to choose?  …so says the cover of this heart-wrenching novel.  Seventeen year old Mia has to do the choosing… and I really, really don’t want to spoil the plot of this amazing story, so I’m going to be as cagey as I possibly can.  Which is going to be difficult – so this will be a very short review.

Okay, we begin with Mia, her hippy parents and her younger brother Teddy and immediately I loved this close-knit, warm family.  They’re such good friends and their warmth immediately welcomes you into their lives.  Mia is a musician, in the family tradition but instead of following the rock-band path her father took, Mia plays the cello. There is a very strong musical influence in this book that it plays out almost as a soundtrack as you read.

This is also a book about love.  Love for your friends, for your family, for your boyfriend/girlfriend and love for life. I cried a river reading this book… in fact I thought I needed medical treatment for dehydration when it was over.  But the crying wasn’t all through sadness,  there was some truly heartwarming sobbing going on.  And there are times in your life when you need a book to bring feelings out in you, to make you burn with emotion, to give you a release… and this is absolutely one of those books.  It gets under your skin and makes you glad to be alive and you realise how lucky you are to have everything you cherish.

The writing is glorious, and there are hundreds of parts I would quote here, if it wouldn’t all give the game away.  You really have to read them in context when you get to those parts or the impact would be lost for you.

So, I’m sorry I haven’t told you very much about If I Stay, but I really think you should just read it without any previous knowledge.  And if you want to experience the book as I did, please try not to Google too much.  Let me tell you that there are so many brilliant reviews out there but a lot of them say too much (there are a lot like me though who are staying quiet).  This is a book to come to cold to fully appreciate the story. Read other reviews afterwards to confirm your thoughts or to share your opinions, but try to read the book first.  I read If I Stay in one sitting and I defy anyone not to have to do the same.

About Eve Harvey

Eve Harvey is a bookaholic. She is forever to be found with her nose in a book. If there are none around then newspapers, magazines, the back of cereal packets, road signs or the tiny washing labels found on the seams of jumpers will do. Eve used to have full time job as a children's bookseller and she was the very first Waterstone's Children's Expert Bookseller in Scotland. Her first love was definitely literature for children and teens, about which she has nerd-level knowledge. However she has since become involved in grown-up books and has co-written her first adult novel with Cath Murphy. Eve and Cath Podcast, blog and have far too much fun on their website Domestic Hell. Eve lives in a field just outside Edinburgh in Scotland with her daughter and son and two dogs and two rabbits. She also has some tanks of tropical fish and vows one day to start up a marine aquarium. And the day she signs her very first publishing deal she is going to celebrate by buying a pair of Horsefields tortoises. You can find Eve through her Agent, Ella Kahn at DKW Literary Agency. She's also on Twitter or on her website :

13 comments on “If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  1. Luisa
    June 13, 2009

    Great review, Eve! I reviewed this one for Chicklish – I must check back and see whether I revealed too much – yikes! It’s definitely a one-sitting kind of book; very short but meaty.

  2. annebrooke
    June 13, 2009

    Sounds fabulous – thanks for the book tip!



  3. Hilary
    June 13, 2009

    Straight into the Amazon basket it goes. Thank you so much for saying so little about its storyline.

  4. rosyb
    June 13, 2009

    Ok, ok, I admit it. I cracked. Googled and Amazoned it. (Well what else do you expect when you get us all curious like that.) Even read the opening chapter!

    I must admit, it doesn’t sound like one for me. I’m not sure why – perhaps the premise (about which I’m saying nothing don’t worry! :)) seems a little… What am I trying to say? I suppose that it sounds very emotionally conceptual – or do I mean conceptually emotional? And I can see that it sounds very clever and like a symbol of “coming of age” but at the same time I always find that I – personally – find very emotionally conceptual/conceptually emotional books a little distancing. Which I know is an odd thing to say. Yes I can feel upset by them, but sort of not in a real way – I feel it is a little like easy emotion for me or something…I’m not expressing myself at all well. I’m sure it’s a very effective book. Maybe I just can feel a little – manipulated almost. Which is, of course, ridiculous because all novels manipulate us.

    I am not easy with anything too emotional or sentimental though. Possibly something wrong with me. Has to have an evil twist for me.

    Anyway, it’s obviously not aimed at me anyway and so I’ll shut up.

    For another BRILLIANT book with another premise about which I am saying NOTHING – the more cynical amongst us should take a look at The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones.

    Talking of which, Eve, this book sounds very similar to the premise of another very famous book…I’m sure you know which I mean. Would you say that’s so?

  5. Jackie
    June 14, 2009

    OK, now I’m really, really curious.
    Though from what Rosy says, it might be very emotional, which I sometimes avoid. But the stable family is enviable & you make the book sound so worth reading. Another good one from you, Eve.

  6. Lisa
    June 15, 2009

    Eve, I know what you mean when you say there are times in your life when you want a book to bring out feelings in you. And sometimes certain books can leave you in this heightened emotional state for quite a while afterwards. I certainly felt like that when reading Sally Nicholl’s “Ways to live forever”. I had to stop reading it first time around as it was making me too upset, but then went back to it much later in a different frame of mind and read to the end and it was quite a cathartic kind of experience.

    I read about If I Stay on the Bookbag and thought it sounded good, but I also thought that the storyline sounded fairly familiar to me. Is there some film that has a similar set-up? Actually, probably best not say here as it’ll likely give too much away.

  7. Moira
    June 15, 2009

    Okay. This is plainly a conspiracy to drive me out of my mind … everybody’s talking in riddles …

  8. Annabel
    June 15, 2009

    I just started reading this book this morning … luckily I’ve only read reviews like yours that don’t give anything away. Thirty pages in and I know it’s going to be absolutely brilliant…

  9. Pingback: My Life in… » Blog Archive » QuickReview: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

  10. Pingback: A three-hanky novel… « Gaskella

  11. Luka Sky
    June 16, 2010

    I Love Thia Book,
    Ive Read It
    Its Awsome,
    I Cried Like 10 Times

  12. Giovana
    July 27, 2010

    I loved that book! I cried soo much!! I want to know if there’s gonna be another one, an If I Stay Novel!?!?!?! Do you know if that’s the case!! ‘Cause I can’t stand it if it’s gonna end that way! I wanna know what’ll happen to Mia and Adam, how will she live without her parents!!! Please let me know if it’ll have another one!!! And if you can, visit my blog too! It’s in Portuguese but if you can understand something…

    Bites and Kisses

  13. Dev
    February 1, 2011

    I read this review because I want this for my birthday! I have read it before I read the book. I love it, it is really sad but, unlike you Eve, I DID NOT cry! You didn’t give a lot away which I like. It is one of the BEST books EVER! Good Job Ms./Mrs. Forman. I have read this book twice and it is clearly amazing. I want to get it for my bff for her birthday!
    Beautiful Book and Amazing Review!

    XOXO Ninja Kitty- Dev- Devil XOXO

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This entry was posted on June 13, 2009 by in Entries by Eve, Fiction: young adult.



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