If I Stay by Gayle Forman, is a teen cello-addict whose whole family gets wiped out by a car crash in the first scene.
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To be fair, that was my first response too. Despite many people recommending this one to me, I don’t like sad books. Therefore, it took me a while to give this one a chance, especially since it is written from the POV of a girl in a coma (wow, game for a challenge much, Gayle? That’s hardcore). The book is really about the girl (Mia) deciding if she wants to live. I was pumping the pom poms from the start, because she has a super hot boyfriend (Adam, oh Adam…) who sings in a rock band, plays the guitar like a true panty-dropper, and is sweet as holy hell to boot.
The book screams with tension despite the constant switching between the main character’s past and flipping to her (bleak, hospital-bound) present. I wanted to know what would happen next RIGHT NOW in BOTH TIMELINES, which yes, I know that’s physically impossible. Trust me, my fingers were doing some serious gymnastics on those pages, and I think I went a couple of days without blinking. *Sends apology card to my optometrist*
In the movie, all that tension was replaced with a lot of Girl Running Frantically Through Hospital shots. It got to the point where I was more interested in the actress’s cardio training regime than the storyline. And yet at the same points in the book, I could feel the author leaving her fingernail marks in my heart, she had it gripped so tightly. I can’t really say it was the acting—Mia’s family was just as quirky and lovable as they were in the book, though in type it translated better. Adam was perfect in both, but again, I felt more deeply for him in the movie. Mia felt deeper and more passionate as a person, a musician, and a family member in the book version. In the book, I had no idea what her decision might be. In the movie, I would have called it from the first scene. I just never had the faith in the directors that I had in the book’s original author.
The death knell was that I watched this movie with my sister-in-law, and the whole time I felt like apologizing for bringing her to such a melodramatic festival of teen hormones. Not the feeling I want to pay $10 to have.
Obviously, the book. So much the book. I cringe to say it, but I’d actually recommend true fans avoid this film version.