If I Stay by Gale Forman: kind of Young Adult, kind of New Adult, kind of lost my interest half way through.
Let’s talk about how awful that makes me feel by the way. Brief synopsis: Mia and her family get into a car accident, her parents are killed instantly her brother might have a chance, she is rushed to the ICU and has restricted visitation. She’s not dead yet but she is battling the only choice before her: move on and die, or stay.
Now, I think that’s beautiful. Really, truly I do. Because, honestly, I wouldn’t have batted an eye lash if Mia chose to die. A lot happened to her in the course of a day: she loses both of her parents instantly, she loses her little brother, chances are that she will never play the cello again. The only thing still good and present in her life are her friends, remaining family, and her boyfriend.
All of whom, I didn’t connect to.
First, Mia sticks out from her family. They don’t seem to care but she certainly does. She prefers classical music to their rock and jazz. In fact, she seems put off by music that isn’t classical or in some way orchestral. And her ability on the cello, while obviously she has to be some sort of musical genius, I wonder, truly–does she need to be so humble about it? In an effort to be humble she actually sounded full of herself. “Oh, no, I couldn’t do that,” and “I’m just not good enough” are constants in Mia’s mind, but I never really got a sense that she was confident in her musicianship, something she would definitely need if she were going to Julliard.
Second, there’s Adam, Mia’s rock-and-roll guitar playing boyfriend. He is upset by what happened to Mia, but not enough for me. He invites a rock star to her ICU, he makes a big scene just to sneak into her room, and I have to wonder why. Why not just talk to her family? Whom you know? Or continue talking to Kim, her best friend, who also knows the family? Why try to create a huge mob of people ultimately endangering the safety of your girlfriend and the other ICU patients? If I were a member of the family I would have made sure he couldn’t see her after that.
Then there’s Kim, her best friend, who doesn’t cry.
In fact, everyone puts on a brave face. That’s probably the biggest problem I have with these characters. They are obviously in shock and should be balling their eyes out every chance they get, but the only character openly displaying her distraught-ness was Kim’s mother and she was scolded by Kim for it.
I’m glad Mia chooses to live (I warned you about spoilers, don’t even try to get mad at me) and I think the ending is perfect. It happens where it needs to happen and ends where it needs to end.
But I would have enjoyed this so much more if I had just seen some realistic characters.