If I Stay teaches patience to its readers. Knowing the pivotal plot point before even opening the book then spending the next two hundred pages waiting for the resolution would be enough to try a saint’s patience if it were not for Gayle Forman’s writing. The frequent use of flashbacks takes readers from the anxiety of wondering what will happen to complete immersion of a simpler time. Of Labor Day cookouts, Julliard auditions, and deciding who to be for Halloween.
Of heart to heart talks with Mom (who is gone). Singing with Dad (who is gone). Playing with Teddy (who might be gone).
And once again you’re jolted back to present reality, where Mia must decide to go or fight to stay.
Forman’s characters are so real; in fact, they’re people I’ve known, in a small way. I have family with Adam’s need to occasionally make a Big Production. A parent who I can tell nearly anything. Friends who I could call on night or day if I need help. I’ve received kindness at the hands of strangers that I’ll never forget, just like Mia.
The familiarity of the people in the novel is the only thing I could relate to, while Mia decides. It anchors the novel, while the grandness of Mia’s situation spirals out of control.
If I Stay takes place in less than a few days’ time, but in its span, I learned who Mia was, the wonderful and challenging life she had Before, and the grief that would overtake her like nothing else… if she stayed.