If I Stay – Gayle Forman

‘I realise now dying is easy. Living is hard.’

After a fatal car crash that leaves 17 year old Mia barely alive If I Stay lets us follow her through her as she questions whether to comeback, after being certain she has lost both of her parents. Mia has a choice to make. As she watches her family and friends come to terms with the disaster she has to decide will she stay? Or will she let go into the unknown…

As with many other people I because aware of this novel because of its film release (due later this year), I’s heard good things about the novel and the film looked brilliant. We’re guided through the novel by Mia herself as she struggles to watch the rest of the day unfold. All she can do is watch and listen. Her family, friends and boyfriend are all willing her to come back and it’s up to Mia to decide if that’s enough.

Although I like the idea, the novel didn’t particularly stand out to me. The novel is fairly short and sways between the present and past and gives us a good insight into Mia’s life before the accident. I found it hard to connect to the story, of course it made me sad but I didn’t feel a deep rooted connection to Mia or the characters around her. That said, I did feel an incredible connection in relation to how she felt about her music and the prospect of being a musician and this added to the sense of tragedy. If anything I would have loved more insight into her love of music and her hopes and dreams, although maybe this was intentional.

Forman has ventured into a question that few of us will even consider answering, if I could chose would I live or die? For many of us we would instantly say I’d live, but would we? This is not the first novel of its kind, however, it is the first for young adult readers, it makes them think. I makes the reader consider a life without their loved ones and the choices and sacrifices that are made every day. I wouldn’t say that the novel is morbid in that respect but it deals with death in quite a straight forward way, for Mia it appears to be more of an escape. It also raises the question of life after, we have no idea how Mia will be affected by her injurys if she decides to survive. Will she play Cello again? Will her dream of going to Julliard be snatched away from her as her parents were? Is her younger brother Teddy, who she adores, still alive? As I said it is a novel full of questions and what if situations.

If anything I’d say that the book could have been longer. Although well written, there was so much crammed into the book that at times I felt rushed through. I wanted to know the smaller details, memories and possibly more about more minor characters in the novel to give them a bit more life within the novel. Also what about afterwards? If she decides to die, does she meet her family? If she lives do her dreams come true? I guess to an extent this leaves us to make up our own minds but I wish this was included in the novel. 

 I give this novel 3 stars ***. I liked the idea and found Mia to be a nice character but failed to interact with her as a person. I also found that I was hungry for more at the end of the novel and felt that it could have had a better ending or more to it maybe? If you’re looking for a shorter read that raises questions then If I Stay may well be for you.

 

Review by Chloe Metzger 

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower- Stephen Chbosky

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Last month I sat down to watch The Perks of a Wallflower, not knowing that there was a novel. As a Emma Watson fan I was very excited to see  how she would tackle an american role and how should would progress as an actress, and I had heard it was a good movie. As I watched I felt that there was something missing, after finding the novel I hoped that I could work that out.

The novel opens with Charlie’s letter, addressed to simply ‘friend’ and why he has chosen them and that he doesn’t want them to find him. This is itself I found a little odd but decided to carry on to the actual novel and try and find what was missing. All I can say is that if I hadn’t watched the film (and didn’t have you guys to think about) I probably wouldn’t have continued with the novel. The problem was the narrative perspective, throughout most of the novel I found it really hard to be sympathetic with Charlie. Not only did his voice appear dull, fractured and frankly odd there was also no reason for the way he acted around people. The attitude is made worse by the self pity that until much later has no reason, Charlie just appears to be a moping teenager wondering where he fits in and living the life of a loner. To make matters worse every single scenario generally ended in an incredibly depressing way and focused on the gloom of life.  

When Charlie meets some friends I thought hallelujah!, this might perk things up from here. I was wrong again and starting to get a little annoyed, Chbosky portrayed these group of teenagers as spending all their time drinking, driving (sometimes after drinking), getting high or stoned or being in generally abusive and troubling relationships. There were some areas of lightness, such as Charlies family relationships but these were generally after a secret of some kind and that ruined the relationships for me. 

I know I haven’t said an awful lot about the novel but the problem with there being a major spoiler right near the end of the book is that there isn’t much I can reveal. Honestly I was incredibly let down by this novel and in some ways I found Charlie as being quite irritating as a narrator. In the end I felt less so as things seemed to blend a little but before I could enjoy it the novel was dragged back to a depressive state (which at the end is understandable). 

I give this novel 2 stars **, I might watch the film again but I doubt I would read the novel. I honestly struggled and was incredibly bored throughout. 

 

Review by Chloe Metzger