“If I Stay”: meaning and analysis of the book by Gayle Forman

“If I Stay”: meaning and analysis of the book by Gayle Forman Literature

There are some books that you put off reading for a long time. And then, when you do read it, you realize that you should have put it off for so long to get acquainted with a true masterpiece. That’s what you can say about the novel “If I Stay” by American writer Gail Forman, which became a world bestseller and has been translated into more than 30 foreign languages.

The main character of the book – a seventeen-year-old girl Mia. Along with her parents and younger brother Teddy, she lives in Oregon, goes to school, and plays the cello, a musical instrument unconventional for a fragile girl. In music class, she meets an attractive high school student, Adam. The guy plays guitar, is into punk and glam rock, and writes lyrics for a local rock band. He is the fun-loving, jovial, company man and the opposite of Mia, a quiet, reserved girl. Love for music helps them find common ground, understand each other, the guys start dating and spend almost two years together. But in an instant Mia loses everything she once loved: a terrible car accident kills her parents and younger brother, and her own is on the verge of death.

The girl falls into a deep coma, her soul leaves her body and tries to decide whether to live with unbearable suffering in her heart from the loss of loved ones or go after them into the next world. It would seem that all is clear: a talented young girl has all the roads open in the musical field, still so much unexplored and beautiful she has not had time to see and feel, and on earth she still has loved ones who want her to survive. It is necessary to live. But Mia’s soul is torn to the sky, toward her beloved family. Like many teenagers her age, the girl cannot make a clear choice and correctly assess the situation. Therefore, the author puts a special meaning in the book: in the struggle between life and death unequivocally should win life.

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The book is written in the genre of teenage literature – young adult, characterized by vivid characters, clear, light syllable, intriguing introduction and a memorable ending. The novel is divided into chapters, each of which is one hour of the day the accident occurred. The structure of the narrative shifts between Mia’s present and past in a chaotic order. However, this non-chronological way of telling the story makes it really interesting and touching. The story is told in 1 person, which creates the effect of presence, helping to feel in Mia’s place and live with her all the experiences and events of that fateful day. Gail Forman amazingly vividly managed to convey the image of the main characters in the novel. Reading their many dialogues, immediately understand the emotional coloring of the characters to communicate, what their thoughts and feelings, what character traits are inherent in them.

The novel “If I Stay” was published in 2009 and immediately found many fans among young people around the world. It was noted that it was written very honestly, without pathos, excessive sweetness, vulgarity and vulgarity. And this is not surprising, because Forman many years working as a journalist and wrote articles on social problems of adolescents and young people. And the impetus for writing entire books was a trip around the world in 2002, during which the writer met with many interesting and extraordinary people: tolkinistami, punks and other youth subcultures. In them she drew inspiration and, in Gail’s words, found the opportunity to “meet them again while sitting at her desk writing her books.” The novel received a lot of positive feedback from young audiences, which got Summit Entertainment interested in its adaptation and released a romantic film of the same name in 2014.

In the book’s title-“If I Stay”-Forman has invested a deep psychological dimension: it immediately sets the reader up for a predetermined choice and leaves an unbearable understatement. The weighty word “if” runs a leitmotif through the entire novel. “If” what? If I stay, what better things lie ahead? If I stay, what have I lost? Provocative title of the work the writer has chosen for a reason: the formation of the teenager, his maturation, often goes through a lot of “ifs. Faced with misunderstanding, it is easier for him to choose the path to nowhere, than to fight with the surrounding reality. “Death is easy. Life is much harder.” – So reads the novel’s slogan.

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The author sees his task, the problematic of the book, as the formation of young people and teenagers and their entry into adulthood. Mia from the past is a girl from a well-to-do friendly family who dates a cool guy, plays the cello and enjoys every moment of her carefree life. The Mia of the present is the coma, the mangled body, the loss of loved ones, and the tears of loved ones. The girl spends 24 hours in a comatose state tormenting herself. It seems to her that there is no one left on earth who can stop her from leaving. But in Mia’s real world, there are “anchors” that keep the girl “afloat”: her grandparents, her friends, and her beloved boyfriend Adam. The main thing is to see them and give them their due. The theme of choice of life and death filigree reproduced by the author through the entire narrative of the novel, forcing you to think about the true values of the present.

The book teaches the ability to look at many things and events through the prism of awareness. Mia’s disembodied essence allows her to look at herself and her loved ones from the outside. The girl realizes that not only her deceased parents in heaven need her, but also those people who love her who are left on earth. She can no longer take the world for granted through the prism of her teenage selfishness. And she cannot betray the hopes of those close to her. For the first time in her 17 years, Mia realizes that she is responsible not only for herself, but for someone else, someone real. For the world she can still create if she makes the right decision for herself to live. Love, family, and happiness are all things that Mia had. But she can build it all up again if she doesn’t give up and abandon those people who believe in her… In a broad sense, the book teaches the reader to live in the present, in spite of all the difficulties, because the future may not come. Only we – the smiths of their own happiness and deciders of their own destiny.

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The novel “If I Stay” ends with the awakening of Mia from her coma and leaves behind a slight sense of understatement. How did Mia feel? Did she regret her decision to stay? And if she had left, what might have awaited her there in the unknown? Touching on three main topics – the choice, life and death, maturation – the author has raised the issues of adolescent socialization and rejection of problems, and opened them with filigree precision. The main character, Mia, was able to overcome her teenage selfishness and make the right decision to return to reality . At the time of publication of the work was not reliably known whether the story will receive its sequel. But the positive reviews from critics and feedback from the younger generation inspired the writer to come up with a sequel to the novel, which helps the reader to look at the story from a different angle.

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