If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay – by Gayle Forman

Published by Black Swan

Paperback £6.99

A perfect speedy read for the summer hols…

Clocking in at just 271 pages, a quick flick revealed that the actual novel is only 250 of these, the balance taken up by extra goodies in the form of an interview with the author, plus insights into the writing and the music that plays a major part of the story.

The tale, to sum up briefly, is that of Mia – a seventeen year old Cello player and the aftermath of a car crash with her family, following which she is in a state of limbo, watching over herself and her friends and family whilst she lies in a coma in hospital.

From then on in, the novel takes the form of a mix of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game – with the main character trapped alone in a bed, unable to communicate with anyone and alone in her thoughts – and movies like Ghost, whereby a character is able to see the reactions and actions of their loved ones to their situation without them being aware they are being watched and listened to.

In recent years, I guess another likely comparison would be The Lovely Bones.

I’m not sure if it was the cover image and design or the character of Mia, complete with her rock group boyfriend, that made me think this novel will most likely appeal to the ‘Twilight’ generation. Not really too much of a surprise then to find mentioned in the back of the book that Summit, the studio that make the Twilight movies, are interested in making If I Stay into a movie.

It’s a great quick read and, let’s be honest, it’s not really aimed at a forty year old male to form its readership.

However, I try to take something from everything I read and in If I Stay I was particularly touched by the details about Mia’s father and how he gave up his music life to be a Dad, risking losing the respect of his bandmates. Something that took a few years, until one of them also became a father, for someone to admit that they then understood perfectly why he’d changed.

In a novel which hinges on four family members being involved in a major car crash it’s difficult to say too much more without giving spoilers as to who survives and who does not – you’ll just have to find those details out by reading the book.

I didn’t find it as emotional as I’d thought it would be, and that may be down to the language used for its younger audience, but probably worth keeping a handkerchief close by if you are prone to shedding a tear or two whilst reading.

A perfect novel to pack for a day on the beach this summer, and one that you can whizz through in a day without pausing to look up at the sun.


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