If I Stay

Paperback | July 8, 2014

byGayle Forman

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The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She WentJust One DayJust One Year, and I Was Here.
 
Now a major motion picture, starring Chloe Grace  Moretz! Includes exclusive interviews with Chloe Grace Moretz and her co-star Jamie Blackley.
 
In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.

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From the Publisher

The critically acclaimed, bestselling novel from Gayle Forman, author of Where She Went, Just One Day, Just One Year, and I Was Here.   Now a major motion picture, starring Chloe Grace  Moretz! Includes exclusive interviews with Chloe Grace Moretz and her co-star Jamie Blackley.   In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­y...

Gayle Forman is an award-winning, internationally bestselling author and journalist. She is the author of Just One Day and Just One Year, and the companion e-novella Just One Night, as well as the New York Times bestsellers If I Stay and Where She Went. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughters.

other books by Gayle Forman

Leave Me: A Novel
Leave Me: A Novel

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I Was Here
I Was Here

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If I Stay Collection
If I Stay Collection

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$23.95 online$23.98list price
see all books by Gayle Forman
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8.25 × 5.56 × 0.81 inPublished:July 8, 2014Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0147514533

ISBN - 13:9780147514530

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from love love love love LOVE LOVE this book; where do i even begin, its just wonderful amazing beautiful written like all of Gayle Formans other books. this one in fact was one of the best. Mia is a cellist keeps to herself and would not go for Adam, they fall in love yadayadayada, although the car crash come quite quickly in the book and i found that it was confusing when they jumped back and forth between the dates, other than that it is an amazing book
Date published: 2016-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a good book! Such a diverse book it's one of my favorites!
Date published: 2016-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What an experience!! Excellent book!! :) If I stay was an amazing book. Heads up folks….the beginning is pretty graphic. The effects of the car crash are described in great detail. Gayle Forman really took you there, as she does throughout the book. Scenes from the past and scenes from the present are seamlessly intertwined through the main characters senses. It was easy to follow and always came back around to the point at hand. Seriously, job well done Gayle! This book will tug at your heart strings and make you appreciate the life you have! It will make you realize the important things in life, like family, friends and love.
Date published: 2016-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome book :) When I started reading this book I couldn't stop!! It was really good :) I really enjoyed it. Great author <3
Date published: 2016-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Even if it's a bit slow in the beginning, this books is so great because of the storyline in general. When you read this book you go through so many emotions, i felt like it was my story even if it's actually not.
Date published: 2015-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good read A little slow to get going this book makes up for it in the end from about halfway thru I sat until I was done!
Date published: 2015-10-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great This book was good. I thought it would be more adventurous and thriller. I guess romance is not my cup of tea. I was confused at the end if she stays? i only reAlizd she stays until i saw the second book.
Date published: 2015-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Was a great quick read, definitely tugged at the heart strings! Excited to begin the next in the series!
Date published: 2015-10-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay Could have been better. I liked how she had to make a choice there was an out of body experience.
Date published: 2015-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It! The book was amazing.I watched the movie first and had to read the book.I cried the entire book.I can't wait to read the sequel.I recomend it to anyone who enjoyed The Fault in our Stars
Date published: 2015-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from If i stay "If i stay" was a powerful book with lots of emotion, but, there was not alot of action in-between the larger moments. It could have been a more ACTION-PACKED book, but, for the most of it, I enjoyed it. - Kaesha
Date published: 2015-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from if I stay I loved this book! It only took me a matter of days to read! I can't wait to read and see what happens next to Mia in the next novel called where I went.
Date published: 2015-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If i stay Wonderful.... Saw the movie first....had to read book..... Book of course better than movie. Can't wait to start sequel
Date published: 2015-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If i stay This book is very touching about chosing to let go of life and staying after an horable accadent tha has happend to her
Date published: 2015-03-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a good read It was a nice book...I wouldn't put it into my shelf of 'outstanding' books though but it was a different kind of love. I was expecting more of Adam. I grabbed the book when I saw the movie ad although I haven't seen the movie yet. They say its an intense, different story...I was expecting more love in the love story. But still...the writer did a really good job.
Date published: 2015-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book I saw the movie trailer then I thought I HAVE GOT TO READ THAT BOOK. So I stumble on the book in chapter and I just couldn't not get it so I bought it, when I started to read it wasn't too bad just a normal girl that loves to play the cello. But it was unique that how she plays the cello but yet her parents were former punk band members when they were younger, which makes her kinda the black sheep in the family ( I know the feeling) for her music taste. Yet again she falls for this guy that's the most popular guy in school and a member of the locals rising fame rock band. Even when everything seems to be going so great for her, it all changed in that one moment, she doesn't know what's happening and she's trying her best to figure out as much as she can. It's a lovely story.
Date published: 2015-02-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I hated it I really did not like this book it just didn't catch my interest it just didn't have a lot of action so I hated I his book sorry to those who loved it,it just wasn't for me
Date published: 2015-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Soo sad!!!!!!!! Such a beautifuly sad book i literally cried the whole time i was reading it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:(#
Date published: 2015-01-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from If I Stay I enjoyed this book for its quality in writing, it was artful and descriptive. It just wasn't for me. Firstly because of my beliefes but I will keep those to myself. Secondly im a random teenager, and being a teenager you cant expect me to appreciate something just because of its quality, to me it was a little slow but hey, you might not share this opinion, and granted this is my first book review so the construction and order of my critiques may be askew. Anyway it took uo some of my time and I appreciate that so three stars.
Date published: 2015-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Read me The book was ok i mean i didnt really like that nothing happens after the car crash just flashbacks. Thanks, Lydia
Date published: 2015-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What i thought of the book This is the kind of book that will inspire you to read, to help your understanding of the true meaning of love and to prosper that meaning. I hope you find that yu could read this book over and over again for this is the kind of book to prove you right.
Date published: 2015-01-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Mediocre This book was a very fast read, in fact, I finished it in one sitting. I really wanted to like this book after seeing all the hype, but it did not meet my expectations whatsoever. The story was extremely rushed, there was no chemistry between Adam and Mia at all, and the events were no where near "touching" like the critics said. I'm super disappointed because I really wanted to like this book. ):
Date published: 2015-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title is right on. Loved it so much, I have read it 3 or4 Times already,and I am sure I will pick it up again. It Is fascinating and well done,thank you.
Date published: 2015-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If i stay So excited to read this book. I have seen the trailor of the movie and can not even wait to read the book . Great job Gayle Forman. Can not wait to read this book.
Date published: 2014-12-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from If i stay You should put it for free so you get more customer's and so I buy it because it costs to much for me.
Date published: 2014-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from OMG AMAZING This book is so beautiful. I managed not to cry, up until the part when Teddy dies. Read this book!!
Date published: 2014-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable This book was a nice easy read I'm glad there's a second book it felt like it was left unfinished
Date published: 2014-11-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not Worth it This book is boring!! I had to push myself to finish it. Certainly hope the movie is better than the book!!
Date published: 2014-10-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not Worth it This book is boring!! I had to push myself to finish it. Certainly hope the movie is better than the book!!
Date published: 2014-10-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not Worth it This book is boring!! I had to push myself to finish it. Certainly hope the movie is better than the book!!
Date published: 2014-10-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from This was BAD After reading John green books, this seemed awful. Read his books instead
Date published: 2014-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book I've ever read! I bought this book because the movie was coming out so I thought I should read it first and I'm glad I did because I couldn't stop reading, I think I read this in like 5 days.
Date published: 2014-09-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from mixed feelings I recently bought this book when I heard the movie was coming out. I had just finished the day I saw the movie so it was fresh in my mind. The book jumps back and forth from the present to the past. I didn't notice when the read the book but in the movie she sees the past as being so happy although I am sure there were a lot of unhappy moments too. I think the book is well written but it was a bit drawn out and I was not happy with the ending. For me I don't always expect a happy ending but it has to be satisfying and this was not.
Date published: 2014-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An emotional and fascinating read! I didn't have much expectations for this book as I don't typically read romance stories, however this one has been getting great reviews and I was curious to find out why. Despite the sad nature of the events in the story, it is written with such clarity and is so full of emotion that you cannot help but be drawn into it. Yes it is sad, but that's equally balanced with flashbacks of the characters happier memories and experiences growing up. I was surprised by how riveting it was to read, I felt like I was sneaking a peek into the diary of a close friend. I enjoyed it so much that I am now looking forward to reading the sequel (and kicking myself for not buying the box set to begin with!).
Date published: 2014-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely heartwrenching and beautiful I couldn't put this novel down. The story was so hauntingly beautiful and I couldn't help but fall in love with Mia and Adam.
Date published: 2014-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nostalgic, Poignant, Beautiful... Although this book may not look like much, or may even seem cliche by what the back cover shows, it is nothing like that. If I Stay captures the beauty of life, death and everything in between. You get to live the life of 17 year old Mia, through her experiences, her downfalls, and ultimately a huge, beautiful miracle. She has an out-of-body experience and gets to see things she had never discovered before, the sincerity of her family, the friendship between her two most favorited people in the world...and much, much more. She gets to see the meaning of life, even though she is young, she gets the choice to stay, or go. Stay with the people who are waiting on her to return, crying, pleading her to come back, or those she lost in the accident that changed her life. Very recommended, and you may need tissues!!!
Date published: 2014-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nostalgic, Poignant, Beautiful... Although this book may not look like much, or may even seem cliche by what the back cover shows, it is nothing like that. If I Stay captures the beauty of life, death and everything in between. You get to live the life of 17 year old Mia, through her experiences, her downfalls, and ultimately a huge, beautiful miracle. She has an out-of-body experience and gets to see things she had never discovered before, the sincerity of her family, the friendship between her two most favorited people in the world...and much, much more. She gets to see the meaning of life, even though she is young, she gets the choice to stay, or go. Stay with the people who are waiting on her to return, crying, pleading her to come back, or those she lost in the accident that changed her life. Very recommended, and you may need tissues!!!
Date published: 2014-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nostalgic, Poignant, Beautiful... Although this book may not look like much, or may even seem cliche by what the back cover shows, it is nothing like that. If I Stay captures the beauty of life, death and everything in between. You get to live the life of 17 year old Mia, through her experiences, her downfalls, and ultimately a huge, beautiful miracle. She has an out-of-body experience and gets to see things she had never discovered before, the sincerity of her family, the friendship between her two most favorited people in the world...and much, much more. She gets to see the meaning of life, even though she is young, she gets the choice to stay, or go. Stay with the people who are waiting on her to return, crying, pleading her to come back, or those she lost in the accident that changed her life. Very recommended, and you may need tissues!!!
Date published: 2014-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nostalgic, Poignant, Beautiful... Although this book may not look like much, or may even seem cliche by what the back cover shows, it is nothing like that. If I Stay captures the beauty of life, death and everything in between. You get to live the life of 17 year old Mia, through her experiences, her downfalls, and ultimately a huge, beautiful miracle. She has an out-of-body experience and gets to see things she had never discovered before, the sincerity of her family, the friendship between her two most favorited people in the world...and much, much more. She gets to see the meaning of life, even though she is young, she gets the choice to stay, or go. Stay with the people who are waiting on her to return, crying, pleading her to come back, or those she lost in the accident that changed her life. Very recommended, and you may need tissues!!!
Date published: 2014-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great and solid, but not all that it's made up to be This is a hauntingly beautiful book, and I do love it... but not all of it. The writing is good and strong, Forman conveys emotion extremely well and writes at a nice pace. The story is taking place in real time and going back to tell readers about her past - this really gives readers a chance to see who Mia really is throughout the whole book, and we get a chance to see all sides of her from different parts of her life. The romance is amazing, and I think that it is one of the most realistic young adult romances I have read; it doesn't dumb down anything, and it expresses true feelings but also includes the awkward stages and problems Mia and Adam go through. I wouldn't give this book five stars because it didn't completely hold me. Yes, it had my attention, but some parts are a lot slower and not as interesting. And Mia got on my nerves more than once - so did Adam, her boyfriend. The characters are realistic, which I like, but sometimes (especially with Mia), it's the annoying, frustrating realistic. And her family seems so, too... not perfect, but just not right, in the way that is too right for a teen romance novel. But overall, this story is profoundly moving and executed very well. I LOVE the ending, everything about the last five pages. That and the music element and the romance are my favourite parts. I am definitely going to read the second book, but i'm nervous as to where it will lead and whether I will like it. I'm soooo looking forward to the movie, too, and the actors seem like a solid fit from what I've seen. But yes, I do recommend this novel. In my opinion, it's not amazing, but it's strong and touching and really great.
Date published: 2014-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! It's a really good book and it made me realise a lot of things..I recommend it for the fans of TFIOS! It's what I what expecting(the order of the events) but it was an amazing book
Date published: 2014-07-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from what an amazing book i can't explain how much i loved it! omg if i stay i would read it over and over again no doubt it was so amazing and the cello part of it all genius! i mean a cello player seeing herself in a coma was soo cool such imagery i am soo excited for the movie and i think they really did well with the cast so before you watch the movie read the book first
Date published: 2014-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of The most Amazing Books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When I went to go see TFIOS I saw the preview for this book and I decided to give it a try. From the minute I opened it I couldn't stop reading. this book is truly amazing that comes with a beautiful message.
Date published: 2014-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book If I Stay is an incredible book! it only took me two days, i could never stop reading because the author did such an amazing job leaving you hungry for more information at the end of each chapter. It shows you how powerful love is. When you're reading about something Mia and Adam did together its hard not to get emotional. This book will leave you thinking about it even months after its over, a beautiful novel like this really makes an impact on your life. 5 stars, its one of the best books I have ever read! I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2014-05-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not what i was expecting at all i got this from the library, ready for a change from dystopian society books but i couldn't even get through the first half. i found the car accident was not gripping and i find it extremely boring how she's always going back and remembering stuff. i did not like the whole 'music prodigy' thing because it seemed so unrealistic. but i DID like the idea of her being outside of body that was a interesting concept. but overall i did not enjoy this books. if your like me, looking for books that aren't dystopian i would recommend: the fault in our stars (john green), a monster calls (patrick ness), miss pergrinnes home for peculiar children (ransom riggs) and if your looking for a extremely unique dystopian read the maze runner because it's my all time favourite trilogy.
Date published: 2014-03-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Neat Storyline In my opinion, If I Stay by Gayle Forman was a disappointing read. Although it had a very interesting storyline and idea behind it, I found it repetitive as Mia watched her body be cared for in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital while she contemplates fighting for her life or taking the easy way out and just letting go. I enjoyed the idea behind the story being from the perspective of an out-of-body spirit, watching her family and friends grieve for her condition, and worry that she may not survive. That, in my opinion, is not something many people would think to write about so I thought that was a great premise for a book! Overall, I do not believe that I will be reading the second book in this series. Although it may be different than the first book and could be a good read, I don’t feel the need to continue the story. However, if you do read and enjoy the books let me now what you thought of the second one. I am always open to being surprised. 
Date published: 2013-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So so beautiful! This is my second time reading this book, and it was just as amazing as the first. IF I STAY is heartbreaking, heart warming, loving, and sad. It's so sad but also so beautiful. The love Mia gets from her family and her boyfriend is so strong, it warms your heart as you read the heartbreaking reality that her family has died in a horrific collision. There are flashbacks from particular moments in her life that involve little things her family has done, first dates with her boyfriend, and overall happy moments. Then it flashes back to the reality that her body is in a state of a coma as her presence is able to see everything going on around her. Essentially, the concept like the CTV show, SAVING HOPE. Only this book came before the show. This is one of my favourite books; I'd DEFINITELY recommend the sequel, WHERE SHE WENT. It's a beautiful sequel to a beautiful story. The critics are right when they say this story sticks with you for a long time. However, I don't see the connection to TWILIGHT as the review on the cover says. It is not TWILIGHT in any way.
Date published: 2013-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All kinds of Love I basically went on an emotional roller coaster because of this book. Everyone was telling me that it was a good book, so I already had high expectations. If I Stay just blew me away, not just because of the story, but because of how it got me to think of how death works. Mia was in a coma state after she got into a car accident. Her parents and brother are already gone, but she's still got nurses and doctors fighting for her, and family who are rooting for her. Mia's in a kind of ghost form, but she's not dead. She can only do things normal humans can do, but no one can see her. If I Stay alternates between stories from her past, and also what's going on in the hospital as well. It was great because the stories of her past always had something to do with her right now. She had to make a decision of whether or not to stay, to go back to her body, or to truly die. I was completely torn. On one hand, her brother and parents were dead. She had such a close relationship that most teenagers don't have with her parents and siblings and I really adored that about Mia. But on the other hand, she had a boyfriend and a best friend that she loved as well. Not only that, but also family who cares about her a lot. If you read this, you'd understand why I was torn. Mia thought she lost everything, but she still had family as well. Even more so, with Mia talking about her past, I got to know all the characters better, and see that they really did care about her. I doubted Mia and Adam's love at first, but her past just convinced me that their love was real. Also, while alternating, I could just see the way Mia started changing the way she worded her thoughts. At first she was unsure, then she sounded like she was finally standing in the right position, only to be finally, thrown off. This is another one of those death novels, where it gets you to think about life. Like, truly, deeply, think about it. I mean, one day, like any other day, like Mia, something could go wrong. If I Stay was so meaningful and deep, it's a great read if you're in the mood for love. Not just romantic love, but love for friends and family as well.
Date published: 2012-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotional but Worth It I was very hesitant when I picked this novel up since I'm not normally one for realistic teenage drama, but am I ever glad that I did. I read the entire book in one sitting because I simply couldn't stop, partly because I started crying at page 60 and continued for the rest of the book. It was totally worth it and leaves you with a great out look on your life when you finish. Gayle Forman worked magic with Mia, for someone who was described as very different from who I am, Forman wrote in such a way that I couldn't help feeling that I was connected with Mia and going through everything that she was, which is a sign of a great author. Definitely one that everybody should read once in their life, just bring tissue's.
Date published: 2012-07-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from :D I really like how the author was vary picky [But in a good way] about how the story and the details of the story were told. The characters were amazing and I also think that she was picky about the what the maid character was feeling about the situation thoughout the story. I loved how the other characters were different but brought together all the same: Music. The plot was well planned out and was great. Kudos to the author! :D
Date published: 2012-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Novel If I stay was everything I wanted, but not what I expected. Not necessarily a bad thing. I loved how emotional this book was, and the plot was great. The characters are brilliant and you never get bored listening to them tell the story. Although it was a short book, it was amazing at the same time, and thoroughly packed with a great story. I can't wait to see what happens to everyone in book 2!
Date published: 2012-06-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Emotional Read This book was beautifully written, but the only thing I would've loved to learn more about her feelings and the in moment, then her reminiscing a lot about the past. I found at some points it got long when she reminisced about the past and I just wanted to go to the present moment to see what was happening. It is a beautiful little book, with emotion and it makes you see how people admit how they trully feel when it sometimes is too late. I find that for people in Mia's situation that is exactly what she needed a caring and loving family to help her through her situation. I believe in being lifted out of your body and being able to see and hear the people around you when you are in a comprimising situation and it kind of reminded me of my grandfather when he passed away, that is why I related to this book a lot. It is worth the read :)
Date published: 2012-05-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A simple story, eloquently & beautifully written If I Stay is about a girl whose musically-enriched life is forever changed in the blink of an eye. Precariously balanced between life & death, she reflects upon her life and all that she has lost versus what she will still have to live for. A simple story, eloquently and beautifully written. To be honest, I hadn’t heard of If I Stay until the sequel, Where She Went, won Best Young Adult Fiction on Goodreads for 2011. Although the book (pleasantly) surprised me, it was nothing like what I was expecting. Based on a slightly different synopsis on this Goodreads page, it led me to believe that she had amnesia about the accident and couldn’t remember anything about it. Based on the quote by USA Today right on the cover that this book “will appeal to fans of Stephenie Meyer’s TWILIGHT” was equally misleading. Other than the fact that her consciousness is floating around, contemplating whether she should stay or go – there really is no other “paranormal” aspect about the book. No vampires, no werewolves, no real connection between Twilight fans and those who would like If I Stay. Initial impressions aside, I flew through this book. It’s an easy read, jumping back and forth from pre- & post- accident. Flashes of her life are reflected on and have moments that will make you tear up, tug at your heart strings, and appreciate what you have. This and other reviews can be found at JustALilLost.com
Date published: 2012-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A beautiful book! ***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS*** This was an interesting book. I can’t remember what made me pick it up in the bookstore (OK, I lie – the comment that fans of Twilight would love this book pretty much sold me), but I’m happy I did. Gayle Forman’s If I Stay was emotional, touching, and wrenched the heartstrings – not something I’ve been getting in my latest reads of vampire fiction and chick lit. If I Stay begins with a car crash in which Mia’s mother and father and little brother, Teddy, are killed. Mia is in a coma, but her spirit is sticking around. Through the course of a day the reader enters the life of Mia, before the accident. We learn of her relationship with her parents, her friends, her one love Adam – the ups and downs that have happened thus far in her life. Interspersed with the past is the now – the 24 hours at the hospital. Mia watches as her remaining family and friends visit her, giving her well wishes and telling her to choose whether she will stay or go. While the majority of the book focuses more on Mia’s life rather than her choice, in the final pages Mia is thrown into a decision – do I come back? Or do I leave? I’m not sure it’s something that many people think about—actually having a choice—but it’s something that Mia has to deal with for one day. The ending is kind of silly – coming back for love – but there is one line in the story that really got to me. Mia, having lost her parents and her little brother in the crash, is listening to one of her many visitors talk to her as she lays in the hospital bed and is told that she still has a family. Death might be a touchy subject for some, but this sometimes-lighthearted, sometimes-heavy read makes sure to not make it the only focal point. It makes the reader realize that no matter what happens in life, there’s [usually] always someone there for you, whether it’s a friend or a distant relative. It’s easy to say you have nothing when something so horrible happens and sometimes it takes a miracle to pull you back to reality—the reality that the word “family” is sometimes extended past the people you’re related to by blood, to the people you never thought would be there to care.
Date published: 2012-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful, beautiful book! I originally picked this up because it sounded like it was going to be emotionally gripping, and it was exactly that. It's short - only 200 pages - but beautifully written from the beggining to the end. I loved every part of it: the suspension of disbelief was done quite well, and it never lacked emotion.
Date published: 2012-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Devastatingly Beautiful Originally posted at http://dazzlingreads.blogspot.com I waited too long to read this book and I have no idea why. Finally, I got myself a copy of this so well acclaimed book and turned I to the first page hoping to read something that I will always remember. If I Stay by Gayle Forman was exactly that! This book is an unforgettable and heart wrenching story that took my breath away from the very first to the last page. It is so sad to read such tragic story filled with so much love and that it was actually inspired from real life. This is one of the things I really appreciate from contemporary books, they expose reality even when it can be so cruel to the point that they seem impossible to bear. Real life is a roller coaster, If I Stay is one as well. Gayle Forman touches a very delicate theme in this book. What if we could choose to live or to die? If I Stay is a book that can leaves you staring into space and thinking for hours about this topic over and over again. I loved the fact that Forman narrates the story from Mia's first person point of view. The voice is so real, strong and powerful that I found myself empathizing and sympathizing with Mia from beginning to end. Adam and Kim are certainly among my favorite characters in the story. They intensify Mia's struggle even more and I felt so thankful to have them there in Mia's life. Forman uses a lot of flashbacks to narrates this story which is told in a very different way from most books I read. I think Forman flawlessly succeed to tell this story in the best way it could possible have ever been written. If I Stay is book that I would certainly recommend to everyone looking for a meaningful and powerful read. This book is absolutely a must-read! Beautiful in its own devastating and tragic kind of way, Gayle Forman puts readers through heart wrenching read filled of despair and hope. I think If I Stay is one of those books that besides teaching and reinforcing values, it makes you re-evaluate life. When you think there is nothing left for you to live, or when you think that some things are too hard for you to bear, pick up this book and you may find that there is at least one reason good enough for you to Stay.
Date published: 2011-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from outstanding, made me cry !!!! SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT !!!! this book was one of the best i've ever read and i've read a lot of books. the characters seemed so vivid and real and beliveable i actually cried when i heard that teddy had died ( i listened to the audio book ) i have never cried because of a book before. i loved that music was a big part in this book with mia going to julliard and being a cellist and how music brought adam and mia together. and that music woke mia from her coma. i'm a musician so i loved all the refrences to real songs. i found the book just a little to graphic like the car accident part when i heard that there were bits of gray things across the road i gasped in horror but aside from that the book was perfect just don't read it if you're sad or feeling a bit depressed because its quite dark. take the time to read this you will not regret it.
Date published: 2011-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really, really good Now this, this was a lovely read. First of all, and this HAS to be mentioned: I loved Gayle Forman's way with words... This is the first book that I read from him and the way he describes things, to me, feels so real... I could feel the music, almost hear it. Now unto the storyline: I think all characters were great and had great interaction, thought the idea behind the book was great and a lot of discussions can start from it and everything, well, worked together perfectly. I thought, as beautiful as the ending was, that it might have been a little too rushed... but that's the only complaint I can actually think about
Date published: 2011-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Novel!! If I Stay is a tear-jerker that will illicit emotions about things buried deep inside you. There are so many words I could use to describe this story: inspiring, funny, visceral, humbling, touching, powerful, sad but yet calming. Young Mia is a cellist who lives with her wonderfully happy family who are all musically inclined, or at least enjoys and appreciates music for the feelings and emotions it can bring out in us. Young Mia faces a tragedy that is so profound you’ll be shaking your head wondering how such a young girl is going to be able to cope with what lays before her and the decision she has to make. This is a story that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. A book for everyone to enjoy!
Date published: 2011-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing I was unable to put this book down. You immediately fall in love with the characters and are able to feel was Mia is going through. This book is full of love and realizing the different types of love, from just the family type.
Date published: 2011-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of My New Favorites Mia is a talented Cellist, with a loving family, an adoring boyfriend, and a bright future ahead of her, having just had a very successful audition at Julliard. Then one day, on a family drive, everything changes. Suddenly, Mia's family is gone. And she's in critical condition, living off of machines and tubes. She's somewhere outside her body, watching everything happen to her, happen to her family, but not feeling any of it, and no one can see her. From there, Mia has to decide whether to stay, or to stop fighting, and go. But what will happen to Mia if she leaves? Or what will happen if she stays? This book is emotional from the very beginning, reading it, it brought me nearly to tears, which is a difficult feat, since I think I've only ever got choked up reading a book once or twice. Mia's emotions feel so real, as do the other character's. Flashbacks to what life was like for Mia before the accident, make you feel even more for her, and you can sympathize with every feeling she has, every doubt, every wish to move on and every wish to remain with what family and friends she has. If I Stay is a brand new type of novel, one I haven't seen before, and I definitely recommend it to just about everyone. If you want to be touched, moved, and dive into someone elses world completely, read If I Stay, and you will not be disappointed. This book is definitely in my list of favorites now, for sure.
Date published: 2010-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really enjoyable and different I picked this up based on a review on a website and loved it. It was a fascinating and hearbreaking read. I would highly recommend it to anyone, whether young or old. I will certainly be looking for other books by this author.
Date published: 2010-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching Wow! I found this book absoutley touching. ~POSSIBLE SPOILERS~ I love how she has to make a choice and her boyfriend helps her. Its mesmerizing!
Date published: 2010-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gave me Chills... I picked up Gayle Forman's "If I Stay" by random curiosity and I was mesmerized, Shocked even! This intense, yet delicate, story had me emotionally torn--constantly wondering what would happen to Mia. She's a talented high school student with an incredible family and a loving boyfriend. Her future is crystal clear until it all changes in one instant. Now, because of a terrible car accident Mia is caught between life and death. She must decide: Will she go on living or Will she pass onto the "other side"? Will she stay or leave? Mia is forced to choose, even if it means losing everything she loves. This book was similar in tone to Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. Each book considers the afterlife, but what sets Mia apart is her freedom of choice. Mia has to witness what effect her condition has on those around her, she hears what they say - their prayers, their pleas and bargans. Each moment brings her closer to her decision and the intensity kept me hooked. If I Stay was a powerful look at the bond of family, the gift of life and freedom of choice. I sincerly trust you'll enjoy every minute.
Date published: 2010-07-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from a different, interesting viewpoint 3.5 stars Mia is 17-years old and likes her family. Her parents are cool and she has a younger brother (Teddy) she loves. One day, they go out for a drive and… ****POSSIBLE SPOILERS**** they are in a car accident. Mia and Teddy are rushed to the hospital, but Mia is outside her body, watching as everything happens. The book centers around Mia watching what is happening at the hospital, plus her thinking back on her life. She has recently fallen in love, and has auditioned to get into Julliard. She must decide if she will stay… ****END POSSIBLE SPOILERS**** It was good. It was a different, interesting viewpoint as Mia tried to make a decision with so many conflicting emotions.
Date published: 2010-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unlike Anything I've Ever Read Before If I Stay is unlike any other book I've read before, and that's saying a lot because I always have a book on the go. Heartbreaking, romantic, tragic, riveting- there are so many words that could describe this book and just how good it was. Gayle Forman weaves a beautiful tale about seventeen-year old Mia, a girl with a loving family and boyfriend, and one with a passion for playing cello. Then, in an instant, her life is shattered when she gets into a car accident with her family. Mia awakens, only to find that no one can see her, and that her parents are dead while paramedics frantically hurry to try to save her life on the side of the road. She doesn't understand what's going on but she follows the paramedics as they speed her body to a hospital. What follows is a heartrending story that switches from moments in Mia's past and back to the present, where she's lying in the hospital. While Mia can only watch as life continues in the hospital, she thinks about the most important question- should she stay? Throughout the novel, I was crying on and off as I felt all of Mia's pain and loss. You'll be kept guessing until the very end if she'll decide to ultimately stay or not, a fact that had my eyes glued to each page. I was sucked in from the very beginning and never did I try to itch forward and read ahead because the book always had my full attention. If I Stay is certainly not a lighthearted book, but I would definitely recommend giving it a read. You can also check out the review here: http://midnightbloomreads.blogspot.com/2010/07/if-i-stay-by-gayle-forman.html
Date published: 2010-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking Story *4.5 Stars Gayle Forman's If I Stay is a heartbreaking musing on life and death, the in between, and the decision to go one way or the other. As a story, Forman has accomplished some really remarkable things with it. For one thing, the whole course of it takes place within a very short period of time, but through flashbacks we get a sense of all of the characters. The emotions are very raw and the characterization is very intense. The relationships between characters are portrayed very dynamically. Personally, I'm not particularly fond of the reasons for Mia's final decision; it felt a little abrupt and easy and sort of brought down the whole book a little. 3 It's undeniable though that Forman's got a great way with words. With beautiful writing, great descriptions and a unique story-telling style, Forman's If I Stay is an gorgeously heartbreaking story.
Date published: 2010-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Motivating! This would have to be one of the most moving novels I have read in a long time. I was in tears majority of the time reading this; it is emotional and extremely heart breaking/heart warming at the same time. Gayle’s writing is absolutely beautifully written and this novel can be read over and over again I guarantee! The main characters courage is positively motivating throughout the entire novel. If I stay is a novel you will want to pick up and is totally worth getting into it will change your focus but at the same time in the end it will make you feel sympathy for the character. Overall, this book was simply amazing.
Date published: 2010-05-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from alirght i didnt really find this book that interseting, i found it kind of boring, it didnt hold my attention, it was still good but i expected better,
Date published: 2010-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman is one of the most moving novels I have ever read. I was reduced to tears several times. It is heart-breaking and heart-warming, tragic but beautiful. Wonderfully written, “If I Stay” switches between both past and present, but at the same time both are connected. The plot centers on a single choice, the most difficult choice one could ever have to make. And it will get you thinking. What would you do if you had to choose?
Date published: 2010-04-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Alright when i got this book, i thought it was gunna be amazing especially because of the reviews and the fact that there is no bad review about it. therefore my expectations were really high and the book didnt reach it. it was a good book but if you can just borrow it from a friend, instead of buying it. the whole story is about this girl deciding whether or not to die and go to her family or stay on earth with her boyfriend and friends
Date published: 2009-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from :) This book was in so many ways an emotional rollercoaster. I'v read a bunch of love storys but none like this it was so interesting to read about what could happen if you die and if its worth it to stay, to chose the boy your in love with even if your heart is broken from all that youve lost. I have to admit at the beining of the book i thought that it was okay, but once i got into it more i was just stunned on how strong mia could be. This book is a must read, it was absolutely amazing!
Date published: 2009-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Soo sad:( This book was so emotionally moving.I enjoyed this book so much that I actually cried when the book ended.It was one of the most tragic stories I have ever picked up. Mia's courage and will power really struck me.She was a beautifully created character.She reminded me to never take anything for granted.I loved this book!
Date published: 2009-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I can't even begin to explain how or why this was amazing. It just was. Beautifully heart-wrenching. I think everybody should give this book a chance.
Date published: 2009-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Touching! I really enjoyed this book, it was extremely sad but so great. I read the entire thing in about half an hour and honestly there is no way I would have been able to put it down. I don't want to give away any spoilers so I'll keep my review brief, although it was a little strange at first I really liked how the book was written in past and present tense. The characters were well developed and relatable and the plot was really good. I definitely recommend this book.
Date published: 2009-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heartrending and Captivating 17 year-old Mia has a great life. Her parents are understanding former punks, she's a talented cellist and her boyfriend completely gets her. Then, one seemingly-innocent snow day changes Mia's life. With her day off from school, Mia, her brother and her parents go on a drive. The next thing Mia knows, she's watching the paramedics pull her beaten body out of the car. The accident has taken the lives of her family and Mia feels as if she won't be able to handle the pain. In her strange state where she can go anywhere but not be seen, Mia learns that it is her choice if she wants to fight to leave or die. Throughout the novel, we see Mia as she contemplates her choice, a difficult one to make. Family and friends come in and out of her hospital and everything they say and do affects Mia's choice. Finally, the day after her accident, Mia finally decides what she wants. That is, until one final person speaks who completely alters Mia's decision. The question is, is it best for her to stay or is it really her time to let go? While topics like this have been explored before, I've never read a single book like If I Stay. It was heartrending and the method that Gayle Forman used was truly innovative. I love how the book went from present to past; it fully developed the characters and defined the relationships between them The entire story is captivating, even though it simply revolves around one decision. I love how everything that mattered to Mia's decision was explored in the novel. Past experiences, the way the future would be...just everything. The most important part, I think, is the way love is explored. The people who love Mia and the people who Mia loves are the ones that are the focus of Mia's decision. With her parents and brother gone, can everyone else's love be enough? Everything about everyday life becomes important in If I Stay. Things that you might never have considered important may be the points that make or break a death-or-life decision. *spoiler* I think one of the most moving moments(for me, besides the ending) was the part where Mia's grandpa tells Mia that he understand if she chooses to die. It makes Mia's loss all the more evident. Her parents are gone, her brother is gone. Really, is there enough left for Mia to hold on to? If it were me...would it be enough for me to stay back for? *Spoiler End* If I Stay is a beautiful and sincere story of an ordinary girl who must make the hardest decision that she will ever have to face. If I haven't made it obvious enough, I completely adored If I Stay. Make sure you pick this one up right away! It's released on the 2nd of April.I've also read Gayle Forman's other book Sisters in Sanity and while it's not quite up to the par of If I Stay, if you need some extra reading, check that one out too :)
Date published: 2009-03-24

Extra Content

Read from the Book

7:09 A.M.Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.I wake up this morning to a thin blanket of white covering our front lawn. It isn’t even an inch, but in this part of Oregon a slight dusting brings everything to a standstill as the one snowplow in the county gets busy clearing the roads. It is wet water that drops from the sky—and drops and drops and drops—not the frozen kind.It is enough snow to cancel school. My little brother, Teddy, lets out a war whoop when Mom’s AM radio announces the closures. “Snow day!” he bellows. “Dad, let’s go make a snowman.”My dad smiles and taps on his pipe. He started smoking  one recently as part of this whole 1950s, Father Knows Best retro kick he is on. He also wears bow ties. I am never quite clear on whether all this is sartorial or sardonic—Dad’s way of announcing that he used to be a punker but is now a middle-school English teacher, or if becoming a teacher has actually turned my dad into this genuine throwback. But I like the smell of the pipe tobacco. It is sweet and smoky, and reminds me of winters and woodstoves.“You can make a valiant try,” Dad tells Teddy. “But it’s hardly sticking to the roads. Maybe you should consider a snow amoeba.”I can tell Dad is happy. Barely an inch of snow means that all the schools in the county are closed, including my high school and the middle school where Dad works, so it’s an unexpected day off for him, too. My mother, who works for a travel agent in town, clicks off the radio and pours herself a second cup of coffee. “Well, if you lot are playing hooky today, no way I’m going to work. It’s simply not right.” She picks up the telephone to call in. When she’s done, she looks at us. “Should I make breakfast?”Dad and I guffaw at the same time. Mom makes cereal and toast. Dad’s the cook in the family.Pretending not to hear us, she reaches into the cabinet for a box of Bisquick. “Please. How hard can it be? Who wants pancakes?”“I do! I do!” Teddy yells. “Can we have chocolate chips in them?”“I don’t see why not,” Mom replies.“Woo hoo!” Teddy yelps, waving his arms in the air.“You have far too much energy for this early in the morning,” I tease. I turn to Mom. “Maybe you shouldn’t let Teddy drink so much coffee.”“I’ve switched him to decaf,” Mom volleys back. “He’s just naturally exuberant.”“As long as you’re not switching me to decaf,” I say.“That would be child abuse,” Dad says.Mom hands me a steaming mug and the newspaper.“There’s a nice picture of your young man in there,” she says.“Really? A picture?”“Yep. It’s about the most we’ve seen of him since summer,” Mom says, giving me a sidelong glance with her eyebrow arched, her version of a soul-searching stare.“I know,” I say, and then without meaning to, I sigh. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, is on an upward spiral, which, is a great thing—mostly.“Ah, fame, wasted on the youth,” Dad says, but he’s smiling. I know he’s excited for Adam. Proud even.I leaf through the newspaper to the calendar section. There’s a small blurb about Shooting Star, with an even smaller picture of the four of them, next to a big article about Bikini and a huge picture of the band’s lead singer: punk-rock diva Brooke Vega. The bit about them basically says that local band Shooting Star is opening for Bikini on the Portland leg of Bikini’s national tour. It doesn’t mention the even-bigger-to-me news that last night Shooting  Star headlined at a club in Seattle and, according to the text Adam sent me at midnight, sold out the place.“Are you going tonight?” Dad asks.“I was planning to. It depends if they shut down the whole state on account of the snow.”“It is approaching a blizzard,” Dad says, pointing to a single snowflake floating its way to the earth.“I’m also supposed to rehearse with some pianist from the college that Professor Christie dug up.” Professor Christie, a retired music teacher at the university who I’ve been working with for the last few years, is always looking for victims for me to play with. “Keep you sharp so you can show all those Juilliard snobs how it’s really done,” she says.I haven’t gotten into Juilliard yet, but my audition went really well. The Bach suite and the Shostakovich had both flown out of me like never before, like my fingers were just an extension of the strings and bow. When I’d finished playing, panting, my legs shaking from pressing together so hard, one judge had clapped a little, which I guess doesn’t happen very often. As I’d shuffled out, that same judge had told me that it had been a long time since the school had “seen an Oregon country girl.” Professor Christie had taken that to mean a guaranteed acceptance. I wasn’t so sure that was true. And I wasn’t 100 percent sure that I wanted it to be true. Just like with Shooting Star’s meteoric rise, my admission to Juilliard—if it happens—will create certain complications, or, more accurately, would compound the complications that have already cropped up in the last few months.“I need more coffee. Anyone else?” Mom asks, hovering over me with the ancient percolator.I sniff the coffee, the rich, black, oily French roast we all prefer. The smell alone perks me up. “I’m pondering going back to bed,” I say. “My cello’s at school, so I can’t even practice.”“Not practice? For twenty-four hours? Be still, my broken heart,” Mom says. Though she has acquired a taste for classical music over the years—“it’s like learning to appreciate a stinky cheese”—she’s been a not-always-delighted captive audience for many of my marathon rehearsals.I hear a crash and a boom coming from upstairs. Teddy is pounding on his drum kit. It used to belong to Dad. Back when he’d played drums in a big-in-our-town, unknown-anywhere-else band, back when he’d worked at a record store.Dad grins at Teddy’s noise, and seeing that, I feel a familiar pang. I know it’s silly but I have always wondered if Dad is disappointed that I didn’t become a rock chick. I’d meant to. Then, in third grade, I’d wandered over to the cello in music class—it looked almost human to me. It looked like if you played it, it would tell you secrets, so I started playing. It’s been almost ten years now and I haven’t stopped.“So much for going back to sleep,” Mom yells over Teddy’s noise.“What do you know, the snow’s already melting.” Dad says, puffing on his pipe. I go to the back door and peek outside. A patch of sunlight has broken through the clouds, and I can hear the hiss of the ice melting. I close the door and go back to the table.“I think the county overreacted,” I say.“Maybe. But they can’t un-cancel school. Horse is already out of the barn, and I already called in for the day off,” Mom says.“Indeed. But we might take advantage of this unexpected boon and go somewhere,” Dad says. “Take a drive. Visit Henry and Willow.” Henry and Willow are some of Mom and Dad’s old music friends who’d also had a kid and decided to start behaving like grown-ups. They live in a big old farmhouse. Henry does Web stuff from the barn they converted into a home office and Willow works at a nearby hospital. They have a baby girl. That’s the real reason Mom and Dad want to go out there. Teddy having just turned eight and me being seventeen means that we are long past giving off that sour-milk smell that makes adults melt.“We can stop at BookBarn on the way back,” Mom says, as if to entice me. BookBarn is a giant, dusty old used-book store. In the back they keep a stash of twenty-five-cent classical records that nobody ever seems to buy except me. I keep a pile of them hidden under my bed. A collection of classical records is not the kind of thing you advertise.I’ve shown them to Adam, but that was only after we’d already been together for five months. I’d expected him to laugh. He’s such the cool guy with his pegged jeans and black low-tops, his effortlessly beat-up punk-rock tees and his subtle tattoos. He is so not the kind of guy to end up with someone like me. Which was why when I’d first spotted him watching me at the music studios at school two years ago, I’d been convinced he was making fun of me and I’d hidden from him. Anyhow, he hadn’t laughed. It turned out he had a dusty collection of punk-rock records under his bed.“We can also stop by Gran and Gramps for an early dinner,” Dad says, already reaching for the phone. “We’ll have you back in plenty of time to get to Portland,” he adds as he dials.“I’m in,” I say. It isn’t the lure of BookBarn, or the fact that Adam is on tour, or that my best friend, Kim, is busy doing yearbook stuff. It isn’t even that my cello is at school or that I could stay home and watch TV or sleep. I’d actually rather go off with my family. This is another thing you don’t advertise about yourself, but Adam gets that, too.“Teddy,” Dad calls. “Get dressed. We’re going on an adventure.”Teddy finishes off his drum solo with a crash of cymbals. A moment later he’s bounding into the kitchen fully dressed, as if he’d pulled on his clothes while careening down the steep wooden staircase of our drafty Victorian house. “School’s out for summer . . .” he sings.“Alice Cooper?” Dad asks. “Have we no standards? At least sing the Ramones.”“School’s out forever,” Teddy sings over Dad’s protests.“Ever the optimist,” I say.Mom laughs. She puts a plate of slightly charred pancakes down on the kitchen table. “Eat up, family.”8:17 A.M.We pile into the car, a rusting Buick that was already old when Gran gave it to us after Teddy was born. Mom and Dad offer to let me drive, but I say no. Dad slips behind the wheel. He likes to drive now. He’d stubbornly refused to get a license for years, insisting on riding his bike everywhere. Back when he played music, his ban on driving meant that his bandmates were the ones stuck behind the wheel on tours. They used to roll their eyes at him. Mom had done more than that. She’d pestered, cajoled, and sometimes yelled at Dad to get a license, but he’d insisted that he preferred pedal power. “Well, then you better get to work on building a bike that can hold a family of three and keep us dry when it rains,” she’d demanded. To which Dad always had laughed and said that he’d get on that.But when Mom had gotten pregnant with Teddy, she’d put her foot down. Enough, she said. Dad seemed to understand that something had changed. He’d stopped arguing and had gotten a driver’s license. He’d also gone back to school to get his teaching certificate. I guess it was okay to be in arrested development with one kid. But with two, time to grow up. Time to start wearing a bow tie.He has one on this morning, along with a flecked sport coat and vintage wingtips. “Dressed for the snow, I see,” I say.“I’m like the post office,” Dad replies, scraping the snow off the car with one of Teddy’s plastic dinosaurs that are scattered on the lawn. “Neither sleet nor rain nor a half inch of snow will compel me to dress like a lumberjack.”“Hey, my relatives were lumberjacks,” Mom warns. “No making fun of the white-trash woodsmen.”“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Dad replies. “Just making stylistic contrasts.”Dad has to turn the ignition over a few times before the car chokes to life. As usual, there is a battle for stereo dominance. Mom wants NPR. Dad wants Frank Sinatra. Teddy wants SpongeBob SquarePants. I want the classical-music station, but recognizing that I’m the only classical fan in the family, I am willing to compromise with Shooting Star.Dad brokers the deal. “Seeing as we’re missing school today, we ought to listen to the news for a while so we don’t become ignoramuses—”“I believe that’s ignoramusi,” Mom says.Dad rolls his eyes and clasps his hand over Mom’s and clears his throat in that schoolteachery way of his. “As I  was saying, NPR first, and then when the news is over, the classical station. Teddy, we will not torture you with that. You can use the Discman,” Dad says, starting to disconnect the portable player he’s rigged to the car radio. “But you are not allowed to play Alice Cooper in my car. I forbid it.” Dad reaches into the glove box to examine what’s inside. “How about Jonathan Richman?”“I want SpongeBob. It’s in the machine,” Teddy shouts, bouncing up and down and pointing to the Discman. The chocolate-chip pancakes dowsed in syrup have clearly only enhanced his hyper excitement.“Son, you break my heart,” Dad jokes. Both Teddy and I were raised on the goofy tunes of Jonathan Richman, who is Mom and Dad’s musical patron saint.Once the musical selections have been made, we are off. The road has some patches of snow, but mostly it’s just wet. But this is Oregon. The roads are always wet. Mom used to joke that it was when the road was dry that people ran into trouble. “They get cocky, throw caution to the wind, drive like assholes. The cops have a field day doling out speeding tickets.”I lean my head against the car window, watching the scenery zip by, a tableau of dark green fir trees dotted with snow, wispy strands of white fog, and heavy gray storm clouds up above. It’s so warm in the car that the windows keep fogging up, and I draw little squiggles in the condensation.When the news is over, we turn to the classical station.  I hear the first few bars of Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no. 3, which was the very piece I was supposed to be working on this afternoon. It feels like some kind of cosmic coincidence. I concentrate on the notes, imagining myself playing, feeling grateful for this chance to practice, happy to be in a warm car with my sonata and my family. I close my eyes.You wouldn’t expect the radio to work afterward. But it does.The car is eviscerated. The impact of a four-ton pickup truck going sixty miles an hour plowing straight into the passenger side had the force of an atom bomb. It tore off the doors, sent the front-side passenger seat through the driver’s-side window. It flipped the chassis, bouncing it across the road and ripped the engine apart as if it were no stronger than a spiderweb. It tossed wheels and hubcaps deep into the forest. It ignited bits of the gas tank, so that now tiny flames lap at the wet road.And there was so much noise. A symphony of grinding, a chorus of popping, an aria of exploding, and finally, the sad clapping of hard metal cutting into soft trees. Then it went quiet, except for this: Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no. 3, still playing. The car radio somehow still is attached to a battery and so Beethoven is broadcasting into the once-again tranquil February morning.At first I figure everything is fine. For one, I can still hear the Beethoven. Then there’s the fact that I am standing here in a ditch on the side of the road. When I look down, the jean skirt, cardigan sweater, and the black boots I put on this morning all look the same as they did when we left the house.I climb up the embankment to get a better look at the car. It isn’t even a car anymore. It’s a metal skeleton, without seats, without passengers. Which means the rest of my family must have been thrown from the car like me. I brush off my hands onto my skirt and walk into the road to find them.I see Dad first. Even from several feet away, I can make out the protrusion of the pipe in his jacket pocket. “Dad,” I call, but as I walk toward him, the pavement grows slick and there are gray chunks of what looks like cauliflower. I know what I’m seeing right away but it somehow does not immediately connect back to my father. What springs into my mind are those news reports about tornadoes or fires, how they’ll ravage one house but leave the one next door intact. Pieces of my father’s brain are on the asphalt. But his pipe is in his left breast pocket.I find Mom next. There’s almost no blood on her, but her lips are already blue and the whites of her eyes are completely red, like a ghoul from a low-budget monster movie. She seems totally unreal. And it is the sight of her looking like some preposterous zombie that sends a hummingbird of panic ricocheting through me.I need to find Teddy! Where is he? I spin around, suddenly frantic, like the time I lost him for ten minutes at the grocery store. I’d been convinced he’d been kidnapped. Of course, it had turned out that he’d wandered over to inspect the candy aisle. When I found him, I hadn’t been sure whether to hug him or yell at him.I run back toward the ditch where I came from and I see a hand sticking out. “Teddy! I’m right here!” I call. “Reach up. I’ll pull you out.” But when I get closer, I see the metal glint of a silver bracelet with tiny cello and guitar charms. Adam gave it to me for my seventeenth birthday. It’s my bracelet. I was wearing it this morning. I look down at my wrist. I’m stillwearing it now.I edge closer and now I know that it’s not Teddy lying there. It’s me. The blood from my chest has seeped through my shirt, skirt, and sweater, and is now pooling like paint drops on the virgin snow. One of my legs is askew, the skin and muscle peeled away so that I can see white streaks of bone. My eyes are closed, and my dark brown hair is wet and rusty with blood.I spin away. This isn’t right. This cannot be happening. We are a family, going on a drive. This isn’t real. I must have fallen asleep in the car. No! Stop. Please stop. Please wake up! I scream into the chilly air. It’s cold. My breath should smoke. It doesn’t. I stare down at my wrist, the one that looks fine, untouched by blood and gore, and I pinch as hard as I can.I don’t feel a thing.I have had nightmares before—falling nightmares, playing-a-cello-recital-without-knowing-the-music nightmares, breakup-with-Adam nightmares—but I have always been able to command myself to open my eyes, to lift my head from the pillow, to halt the horror movie playing behind my closed lids. I try again. Wake up! I scream. Wake up! Wakeupwakeupwakeup! But I can’t. I don’t.Then I hear something. It’s the music. I can still hear the music. So I concentrate on that. I finger the notes of Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no. 3 with my hands, as I often do when I listen to pieces I am working on. Adam calls it “air cello.” He’s always asking me if one day we can play a duet, him on air guitar, me on air cello. “When we’re done, we can thrash our air instruments,” he jokes. “You know you want to.”I play, just focusing on that, until the last bit of life in the car dies, and the music goes with it.It isn’t long after that the sirens come.9:23 A.M.Am I dead?I actually have to ask myself this.Am I dead?At first it seemed obvious that I am. That the standing-here-watching part was temporary, an intermission before the bright light and the life-flashing-before-me business that would transport me to wherever I’m going next.Except the paramedics are here now, along with the police and the fire department. Someone has put a sheet over my father. And a fireman is zipping Mom up into a plastic bag. I hear him discuss her with another firefighter, who looks like he can’t be more than eighteen. The older one explains to the rookie that Mom was probably hit first and killed instantly, explaining the lack of blood. “Immediate cardiac arrest,” he says. “When your heart can’t pump blood, you don’t really bleed. You seep.”I can’t think about that, about Mom seeping. So instead I think how fitting it is that she was hit first, that she was the one to buffer us from the blow. It wasn’t her choice, obviously, but it was her way.But am I dead? The me who is lying on the edge of the road, my leg hanging down into the gulley, is surrounded by a team of men and women who are performing frantic ablutions over me and plugging my veins with I do not know what. I’m half naked, the paramedics having ripped open the top of my shirt. One of my breasts is exposed. Embarrassed, I look away.The police have lit flares along the perimeter of the scene and are instructing cars in both directions to turn back, the road is closed. The police politely offer alternate routes, back roads that will take people where they need to be.They must have places to go, the people in these cars, but a lot of them don’t turn back. They climb out of their cars, hugging themselves against the cold. They appraise the scene. And then they look away, some of them  crying, one woman throwing up into the ferns on the side of the road. And even though they don’t know who we are or what has happened, they pray for us. I can feel them praying.Which also makes me think I’m dead. That and the fact my body seems to be completely numb, though to look at me, at the leg that the 60 mph asphalt exfoliant has pared down to the bone, I should be in agony. And I’m not crying, either, even though I know that something unthinkable has just happened to my family. We are like Humpty Dumpty and all these king’s horses and all these king’s men cannot put us back together again.I am pondering these things when the medic with the freckles and red hair who has been working on me answers my question. “Her Glasgow Coma is an eight. Let’s bag her now!” she screams.She and the lantern-jawed medic snake a tube down my throat, attach a bag with a bulb to it, and start pumping. “What’s the ETA for Life Flight?”“Ten minutes,” answers the medic. “It takes twenty to get back to town.”“We’re going to get her there in fifteen if you have to speed like a fucking demon.”I can tell what the guy is thinking. That it won’t do me any good if they get into a crash, and I have to agree. But he doesn’t say anything. Just clenches his jaw. They load me into the ambulance; the redhead climbs into the back with me. She pumps my bag with one hand, adjusts my  IV and my monitors with the other. Then she smooths a lock of hair from my forehead.“You hang in there,” she tells me.I played my first recital when I was ten. I’d been playing cello for two years at that point. At first, just at school, as part of the music program. It was a fluke that they even had a cello; they’re very expensive and fragile. But some old literature professor from the university had died and bequeathed his Hamburg to our school. It mostly sat in the corner. Most kids wanted to learn to play guitar or saxophone.When I announced to Mom and Dad that I was going to become a cellist, they both burst out laughing. They apologized about it later, claiming that the image of pint-size me with such a hulking instrument between my spindly legs had made them crack up. Once they’d realized I was serious, they immediately swallowed their giggles and put on supportive faces.But their reaction still stung—in ways that I never told them about, and in ways that I’m not sure they would’ve understood even if I had. Dad sometimes joked that the hospital where I was born must have accidentally swapped babies because I look nothing like the rest of my family. They are all blond and fair and I’m like their negative image, brown hair and dark eyes. But as I got older, Dad’s hospital joke took on more meaning than I think he  intended. Sometimes I did feel like I came from a different tribe. I was not like my outgoing, ironic dad or my tough-chick mom. And as if to seal the deal, instead of learning to play electric guitar, I’d gone and chosen the cello.But in my family, playing music was still more important than the type of music you played, so when after a few months it became clear that my love for the cello was no passing crush, my parents rented me one so I could practice at home. Rusty scales and triads led to first attempts at “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” that eventually gave way to basic études until I was playing Bach suites. My middle school didn’t have much of a music program, so Mom found me a private teacher, a college student who came over once a week. Over the years there was a revolving batch of students who taught me, and then, as my skills surpassed theirs, my student teachers played with me.This continued until ninth grade, when Dad, who’d known Professor Christie from when he’d worked at the music store, asked if she might be willing to offer me private lessons. She agreed to listen to me play, not expecting much, but as a favor to Dad, she later told me. She and Dad listened downstairs while I was up in my room practicing a Vivaldi sonata. When I came down for dinner, she offered to take over my training.My first recital, though, was years before I met her. It was at a hall in town, a place that usually showcased local bands, so the acoustics were terrible for unamplified classical. I was playing a cello solo from Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.”Standing backstage, listening to other kids play scratchy violin and clunky piano compositions, I’d almost chickened out. I’d run to the stage door and huddled on the stoop outside, hyperventilating into my hands. My student teacher had flown into a minor panic and had sent out a search party.Dad found me. He was just starting his hipster-to-square transformation, so he was wearing a vintage suit, with a studded leather belt and black ankle boots.“You okay, Mia Oh-My-Uh?” he asked, sitting down next to me on the steps.I shook my head, too ashamed to talk.“What’s up?”“I can’t do it,” I cried.Dad cocked one of his bushy eyebrows and stared at me with his gray-blue eyes. I felt like some mysterious foreign species he was observing and trying to figure out. He’d been playing in bands forever. Obviously, he never  got something as lame as stage fright.“Well, that would be a shame,” Dad said. “I’ve got a dandy of a recital present for you. Better than flowers.”“Give it to someone else. I can’t go out there. I’m not like you or Mom or even Teddy.” Teddy was just six months old at that point, but it was already clear that he had more personality, more verve, than I ever would. And of course, he was blond and blue-eyed. Even if he weren’t,  he’d been born in a birthing center, not a hospital, so there was no chance of an accidental baby swapping.“It’s true,” Dad mused. “When Teddy gave his first harp concert, he was cool as cucumber. Such a prodigy.”I laughed through my tears. Dad put a gentle arm around my shoulder. “You know that I used to get the most ferocious jitters before a show.”I looked at Dad, who always seemed absolutely sure of everything in the world. “You’re just saying that.”He shook his head. “No, I’m not. It was god-awful. And I was the drummer, way in the back. No one even paid any attention to me.”“So what did you do?” I asked.“He got wasted,” Mom interjected, poking her head out the stage door. She was wearing a black vinyl miniskirt, a red tank top, and Teddy, droolingly happy from his Baby Björn. “A pair of forty-ouncers before the show. I don’t recommend that for you.”“Your mother is probably right,” Dad said. “Social services frowns on drunk ten-year-olds. Besides, when I dropped my drumsticks and puked onstage, it was punk. If you drop your bow and smell like a brewery, it will look gauche. You classical-music people are so snobby that way.”Now I was laughing. I was still scared, but it was somehow comforting to think that maybe stage fright was a trait I’d inherited from Dad; I wasn’t just some foundling, after all.“What if I mess it up? What if I’m terrible?”“I’ve got news for you, Mia. There’s going to be all kinds of terrible in there, so you won’t really stand out,” Mom said. Teddy gave a squeal of agreement.“But seriously, how do you get over the jitters?”Dad was still smiling but I could tell he had turned serious because he slowed down his speech. “You don’t. You just work through it. You just hang in there.”