If I Stay by Gayle Forman (2009)

if-i-stayA dramatic, emotional story about family and love.

Recommended grade level: 8 and up

Pages:   201 (for ISBN 9780525421030)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction in spirit, though it has a dash of fantasy; romance

Tone/Style: serious, sad

Pace: moderate

Topics: grief and loss, accidents, music, choices

Themes: death, family, hope, romantic love, purpose

Summary: Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving. (Source) Who will like this book?: This is a big giant catharsis-fest perfect for those who ask for something sad. It will strike the right chord for romance fans, but has enough other things going on that non-romance readers may like it too, as long as they don’t mind some lovey-dovey stuff.

Who won’t like this book?: It’ll be a tough sell for most guys. It’s occasionally sappy and cheesy, and isn’t exactly a picker-upper.

Other comments: This book has a fairly mature relationship and some touching in it, but it doesn’t get too sexual. It’s also emotionally pretty gut-wrenching. So while I can imagine readers as young as 6th grade enjoying this, they’d have to be pretty mature. I think 8th graders are more likely to be into it.

Sequel(s): Where She Went (2011)

Readalikes: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a great fit as another sad romance (note that it has some sexual content). Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (recommended for grades 8 and up) and Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin feature girls in surreal post-death experiences similar to Mia’s situation.

-Kylie Peters

Image: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4374400-if-i-stay

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