If I Stay by Gayle Forman

if I stay gayle formanGayle Forman's If I Stay made the rounds on book blogs when it was first released in hardcover. I noticed and it flitted around in the back of my mind for a long time. The problem is that plenty of good books flit around in the back of my mind waiting for a day when I'll get around to reading them. I received a push in the direction of If I Stay when I found out that we'd be doing the sequel, Where She Went, for BlogHer Book Club later this month. I cannot knowingly read a second book without reading the first (though it has happened by accident on occasion).

It made me cry. Before breakfast.

If I Stay is a day in the life... erm... half-life? of Mia. She's in her senior year. She's a quiet and serious classical music fan who happens to be a phenomenal cellist. She, like many of us did in high school, never feels like she quite fits in. Not with her family, who are her physical opposites in addition to being serious punk rock fans. Her father was even in a band until her younger brother Teddy was born. Her boyfriend is also in a rock band that is just on the verge of maybe making it big. Life was getting complicated -- as it does in those final months of high school -- when absolutely everything changes in an instant.

Mia and her family are in a car accident that leaves her on the brink of death. She's comatose and the book follows a whole day in what may be the last day of her life. We see Mia's memories and her thoughts as she struggles to decide whether or not to stay in this world.

Forman's book is wonder and sad and sometimes completely heartbreaking. There was one scene with her grandfather that just completely gutted me.  And I loved it. I really appreciate an author that can manipulate my emotions like that. I'm glad that I got the push I needed to bump this one to the top of my reading list. And I don't think I've ever said this about a book before -- it really made me want to listen to Yo-Yo Ma.