This one surprised me. I’ve been thoroughly disappointed with most of the YA books I’ve read lately. They’re written in a half-assed way by authors who seem to have forgotten how they thought as teens. I spend half of the book cringing. If I Stay still had its fair share of cringe worthy cheesey moments, but it also carried a good amount of substance. The story follows Mia through an out-of-body experience in which she must decide whether or not she wants to stay in this world. Mia, for the most part, felt like a genuine teenager. She questioned where she fit in her family, felt insecure in her relationship, and was equally hesitant and excited about her future in music. Since she wasn’t written as one of those pseudo-intellectual teens* that I hate or made out to be some sort of special cookie for no reason**, it made her emotional struggles much more relatable. When Mia makes her ultimate choice, she does it for a reason that I can respect and one that was consistent with her character.
The story never quite hit a climactic peak, though. It stays relatively within the same emotional range throughout. You don’t fall in love with her necessarily or many of the people in her life, but Gayle Forman’s writing is good enough to finish it out. Not a superbly spectacular read, but an enjoyable one. And if you’re considering picking something up from the genre of teen melodrama, If I Stay‘s not a bad choice.
3 / 5
*See any John Green heroine
**See Bella Swan