If I Stay – Gayle Forman

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After a fatal car crash that leaves 17 year old Mia barely alive, she has to make a choice to live or die, after being certain she has lost both of her parents. As she watches her family and friends come to terms with the disaster as she separates from her body she needs to decide. Will she let go and follow her parents into the unknown or fight to come back

As with many other people I became aware of this novel because of its film release, at the time it hadn’t been released and I haven’t seen the movie as I write this. I’d heard good things about the novel and so I decided I’d pick it up and give it a go. It’s certainly a difficult novel and at times can be slightly graphic. We’re guided through the novel by Mia herself as she struggles to watch the rest of the day unfold. All she can do is watch and listen. Her family, friends and boyfriend are all willing her to come back and it’s up to Mia to decide if that’s enough for her.

Although I like the idea, the novel didn’t particularly stand out to me. The novel is fairly short and sways between the present and past and gives us a good insight into Mia’s life before the accident. I found it hard to connect to the story, of course it made me sad, but I didn’t feel a deep rooted connection to Mia or the characters around her. That said, I did feel an incredible connection in relation to how she felt about her music and the prospect of being a musician and this added to the sense of tragedy. If anything I would have loved more insight into her love of music and her hopes and dreams, although maybe this was intentional.

Forman questions something that few of us will even consider thinking about, would you chose to live after losing so many people you love, if you had the choice? Many of us would instantly say we’d choose life, but would we? This is not the first novel of its kind, however, it is the first for young adult readers, it makes them think. I makes the reader consider a life without their loved ones and the choices and sacrifices that are made every day. I wouldn’t say that the novel is morbid in that respect but it deals with death in quite a straightforward way, for Mia it appears to be more of an escape. It also raises the question of  life after trauma. We have no idea how Mia will be affected by her injuries if she decides to live. Will she play Cello again? Will her dream of going to Juilliard be snatched away from her as her parents were? Is her younger brother Teddy, whom she adores, still alive? As I said it is a novel full of questions and what if situations.

If anything I’d say that the book could have been longer. Although well written, there was so much crammed into the book that at times I felt rushed through. I wanted to know the smaller details, memories and possibly more about more minor characters in the novel to give them a bit more life within the novel. Also what about afterwards? If she decides to die, does she meet her family? If she lives do her dreams come true? I guess to an extent this leaves us to make up our own minds but I wish this was included in the novel.

I give this novel 3 stars ***. I liked the idea and found Mia to be a nice character but failed to interact with her as a person. I also found that I was hungry for more at the end of the novel and felt that it could have had a better ending or more to it maybe? If you’re looking for a shorter read that raises questions then If I Stay may well be for you but I simply found that there was too much left unanswered at the end.

 

Review by Chloe Metzger

Milestones

I’ve been thinking lately about milestones. I don’t know what it was exactly but I’m guessing it’s a combination of turning 21 (which I don’t understand why it’s a big deal in the UK), seeing more and more of the people I went to school with having children and getting engaged and a lot of my other friends graduating, starting careers and all that jazz. To put it simply milestones freak me out, I’m sure they do for most people. You’re supposed to do this, do that at a certain age, a certain time. For girls there’s a choice between being a mother and being a career woman, because we’re told we can’t have it all.

In some ways I’m lucky, I found the love of my life when I was 13 years old and we live together. Now we’re more than happy together, we’re both doing degrees we love and have careers that we want, but for everyone else it’s not enough. Everyone asks me when we’ll get married, when we’ll have a baby (never if). I just feel a bit stuck and part of that is because I am a woman. Ali NEVER gets asked when he’ll be a father, he’s asked about his job and what he’s going to do for work, it’s all pretty frustrating. I know that I’m an intelligent woman and I have big aspirations, so why do people ask about these ‘traditional’ things.

I’m in no way saying that people my age shouldn’t be married or have children, most of the women in my family had babies by the time they were my age and they’ve all taught me so much. My best friend became a mother at 17 and she’s one of the most awesome ones I know.The thing is my dream right now is walking across that stage to pick up my degree, being able to treat myself with money I’ve earnt and being happy. I will have children, I’d love to be a mum at some point but I wish people would understand there is so much more to me than the fact I can grow a human. I liked this picture below, it definitely made me smile.

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This isn’t an anti-children post, which is how some will read it, it’s just a frustration that sometimes I’m judged by these milestones when I have other amazing things going on. I hate that I have to think about body clocks and all that crap when I’m trying to plan things out about where I want to be in my life, because I’ve been bombarded with media listing risks and problems. Like I said why am I even thinking about this as a twenty year old!

I appreciate that this post might not make much sense, I don’t even know if it does to me, but I can’t be the only one who feels like this. Who knows how I’ll feel in a month, a year or ten but I just want it to be on my own terms, not because of supposed milestones and other people’s ideas of what happiness is.