Reading Sara Review: If I Stay and Where She Went, by Gayle Forman

If I Stay and Where She Went, by Gayle Forman

If I staywhere she went

If I Stay

Rating: 4/5

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)

Where She Went

Rating: 4/5

Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 17, 2012)

Reading Sara Review: I have had a wonderfully lazy weekend, which has inspired a Sunday Double-Feature Book Review! If I Stay and Where She Went are a part of a two-book series by Gayle Forman.

I first heard about If I Stay from a movie trailer. I was at the theater seeing Fault in Our Stars, the book of which I had already read – and knew was a wonderfully sad young adult book.  Well, when the preview for If I Stay came on the screen, I was already crying – and continued crying for the next couple of hours through the movie. I did not go back to the theater to see If I Stay, but remembered the preview and was interested, and heard that it was a book, so I added it to my TBR Goodreads list and mostly forgot about it. Then, recently the movie came on Netflix and I watched it – and cried a bunch again.

Now friends, I did something that I had never done before after finishing the movie. I read the sequel to the book before reading the first one. To be honest, I just was not sure that I was going to love the book and felt like I could just get a taste of what happened (because there is a big cliff hanger at the end of the movie and I really had filed these books in my head under “guilty pleasures” not necessarily good books). But, here’s what happened: I ended up really liking the book. I thought it was creative, well written and a good portrayal of what happened later. But we’ll get to that in a minute. After I finished the second book, Where She Went, I decided to read If I Stay – because I was convinced by now that I would like it (and it is always fun to see what is different between the book and the movie). I am not recommending that you follow my super unique way to read these books and watch the movie – do it your own way!

If I Stay follows a teenage girl, Mia as she makes heart-breaking decisions. Her family is in a terrible car-accident and Mia has an out-of-body experience and watches the aftermath of the accident unfold (ok, so she is sort of a ghost – but not in a creepy way). She relives her past, how she fell in love with musician Adam, how her family loved her, and her incredible talent as a cellist, and has to make a decision – does she want to continue to live?

In Where She Went, we meet the characters again 3 years later. Some are famous now, some are struggling, but this time the story is from Adam’s point of view. As a fly on the wall of what happens when two former flames reunite and resolve unspoken hurt, I found myself less moved emotionally than in the first one, but just as invested as I had been before in the outcome. It was a wonderful resolution to the first book.

Clearly I am avoiding spoilers in this review – because I want to keep the fun of discovery for all future readers. I thought these were well done young adult books that deal with some heavy issues, but in a loving way. They are not destined to be classic literature by any means. But, for fans of the young adult genre, both books are well written and well told, unique stories. And, if you need a good cry – check out the movie and buy an extra box of tissues!

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