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Book Review: If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

April 27, 2012

Somewhere between an angsty teenage emotionally driven Nicholas Sparks novel and a Heart Wrenching beautiful REAL story, If I Stay was born. Basically, the story is that a family went for a drive, their car was hit by a semi, they all die.

Except one. As she hovers between life and death Mia evaluates her life, friends and loved ones and what her future will be like without her family and everything she has ever known of as right and home. She must choose whether or not to stay.  I think this story is exactly the sort of thing I normally avoid reading.  But, this novel… this novel is different.  Maybe because the plot was inspired by real questions and ponderings about life and death? Maybe because I recently lost a dear family member suddenly and I am vulnerable? I don’t know… but, these words resonated with me.  And I read it through in one sitting. Something about it was so raw and real.



Where She Went  focuses primarily on the after effects of Mia’s decision. It’s not as good as it’s prequel, If I Stay, but still a good conclusion. And really, how could the story end where the first book did? Journeys begin with a single step and often a decision is not the end of an issue but only the beginning of something harder.

Gayle Forman has a unique ability to be predictable and still keep you on the edge of your seat.  The voices are sharp and I like the retrospective feel of both books. Essentially, they are about journeys. And self worth. And the discovery of life and where we fit into it, even (and especially) when we feel like we don’t fit at all.

Overall I think maybe this is what makes these books so intriguing to me. Because deep down I think many of us struggle with these same questions. Many of us don’t clearly see the purpose in our life or maybe the better thing to say is that many of us don’t understand ourselves well enough to know what our purpose is or should be. We all want to do the big things and be the best kind of people, but everyone’s journey to that end will be a little different. We aren’t cookie cutters but we try to model ourselves on what we see in other people and wonder what’s wrong with us when we turn out half baked on one side and raw on the other.

Self discovery isn’t about finding our inner demons and letting them loose. It’s about finding out who God created us to be and that journey will always take us through uncharted lands because no one has ever been who we are meant to be.

Ok, so maybe that last part isn’t really what the book is trying to say, but that’s what I took away from it. I’d recommend these books to mature readers. They do get pretty corny at times and (Disclaimer ahead) the swearing (especially in the 2nd book) is more than I’m comfortable with. But, on the whole I’d give these books a good 3 stars. I learned a lot from them because they inspired to think and ask myself questions I hadn’t asked myself before. And those are always good things.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 27, 2012 6:07 am

    I have both of these books to read this weekend! I don’t want to read your review until I’ve finished them but I’m going to bookmark your page and check it out later 🙂

    • Rebecca permalink*
      April 27, 2012 7:46 am

      Please do come back after you’re done reading them! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

      Sent from my iPhone


  1. April Book List « The Shadowlands

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