If I Stay by Gayle Forman, published by Doubleday Childrens Books in April 2009
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck...
A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.
This is one of the first books I heard about when I started my book blog. Word of mouth dictated that it was an amazing read but I resisted reading it for a long time because I thought that the subject matter was going to be too painful. I'm normally a big fan of the happy ending! However, after finally caving and reading it, I discovered that yes, it's painful and moving and heartbreaking but it's also inspiring and uplifting and one of the most beautifully written books I think I've ever come across.
When I was reading it I kept having to put it down. Not because I wasn't enjoying it or I'd lost interest but because the story moved me so much that I couldn't see the words for all the tears. I literally had to stop, compose myself and then immediately start again because I desperately needed to know what the outcome of Mia's story was going to be.
'If I Stay' is about life and death and the choices we make along the way. It's about the unexpected paths that our lives can end up taking and the experiences we have and struggles we face. After being involved in a tragic car accident, Mia has to decide if life is still worth living and starts to reassess the people and things around her before she can make the most important choice of all.
I found that this book was often difficult to read because it's brutally painful and emotional. However, that's what life is like sometimes and Gayle Forman doesn't shy away from confronting difficult subjects throughout. I loved the whole concept and idea for the story - it's brilliantly constructed and is an incredible read. I took a deep breath when I'd finished and then got ready to pick it up and start all over again.
The eagerly anticipated sequel, 'Where She Went', is published in the UK by Doubleday on May 5th 2011.