One of the strengths of young adult fiction is the opportunity it presents readers to evaluate their own lives, reflect on their past exploits, and vicariously rehearse for their futures. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, offers many moments for reflection. Told in multiple flashbacks, Mia, a high school senior, looks at the life she has already lived and she must decide whether she wants to live after the rest of her family has been killed in a car accident. Mia’s narration is told through an out-of-body experience as she watches herself (and those who come to visit) cling to life in an ICU. She examines her past, distantly observes her present, and hedges her bets on the future.
I put this book off for quite some time because I assumed that I had read enough almost-dead-girl-decides-to-embrace-life stories. This one is different because she has to choose between death with the rest of her family and life with her grandparents and boyfriend. While her boyfriends pleads with her not to die so he doesn’t have to write a sad song about her, her grandfather tells her it’s ok if she wants to let go. This is a powerful story that you won’t want to put down. It’s thoughtfully-written with characters you’ll have a hard time not liking. So, rather than be like me and put it off, read Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.