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If I Stay - Gayle Forman

My review: 4/5 stars

My views on this book are somewhat conflicted. The notion that we have some choice in whether we live or die is an interesting premise and this book was hard to put down, but I think I loved the <em>idea</em> of the story more than the story itself.
Mia, a gifted cellist, is lying in a coma following a tragic car accident debating whether to stay or go. We find out a lot about her life through her memories. A person from her life will come to visit or is in the waiting room and she is reminded of the important people in her life. She has lost so much, but still, something is holding her here.
I liked Mia, but she is so different than I was at her age. She has her cello; I had my french horn, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. Through her reminiscing we learn about the people in her life and their belief systems. Her best friend, Kim, is Jewish and she goes to the chapel to pray for Mia. Her grandmother believes that animals around her are actually angels in disguise. I know that if I was in a battle for my life, my beliefs would play a large part in what I do or do not do. We never find out what Mia's beliefs are. The closest we get is that maybe she thinks the afterlife is a perpetual sleep, but she's not sure of that either. I think everyone has a belief system, even not believing in God is a belief, but even at the end of the book I am wondering what Mia actually believes happens to a person after she dies.
Mia is some sort of ghost/spirit that is able to leave the ICU and follow her friends to different parts of the hospital. She can hear the nurses speak to her and she can watch her body and what happens to it. There are others in the ICU and I was always wondering why she didn't run into anyone like herself; others on life support, who were struggling with staying or going.
I actually liked her best friend Kim, and her boyfriend more than I liked Mia. Kim is smart, funny and tells you what you need to hear, not what she thinks you want to hear. Her honesty is refreshing.
Adam, a rising rock star, is everything you could want in a book boyfriend. He's not perfect, and through Mia's memories we see their struggles but in the end, you know his love and devotion for Mia are real.
Mia's family was quirky, but great. Her dad was in a rock band and recently gave that up to be a respectable grown up with a respectable teaching job. He was fun and supportive of his daughter. I couldn't be more different than her mother, but yet, I love their close mother/daughter bond. Although her parents were almost unbelievably permissive and they had more of a friend than daughter relationship with Mia, it was still good to see a family that loves each other and gets along. Mia sums up her relationship to her family this way:
<em>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.</em>
I have heard from several people that book two, from Adam's perspective, is even better. I can't wait to read it.