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If I Stay: To Read or Not to Read?

If I Stay

If I Stay Movie Poster

Nothing like sending chills down the spine than reading about 17-year-old Mia looking at her own death. The out-of-body experience and the decision to choose between living a hard life and going to heaven was a heart-wrenching one. The story is filled with such enriching experiences that put several into discussions, thinking what they would do in such a scenario. I picked up my copy to read free in a PDF format however once I read through the first few chapters I needed to buy the eBook.

Plot

Mia, a prodigy in cello, lost her chance of attending Julliard in a rather shocking event. The incident happened when her parents were driving to a close friend’s house on a snowy morning when their car collided with another in a sudden movement.

The terrific accident threw Mia away from the spot. On a chilling day, Mia still absorbing whatever happened walks closer to the scene and finds her parents dead. And from the far view she feels the third body is of her younger brother (Teddy) but it was hers. Just when she is traumatized over the entire situation, the ambulance ringing the siren comes to the spot and takes the bodies to the hospital. She runs behind it and reaches to the hospital as a disembodied soul where she is happy to find her boy friend, Adam along with her best Kim conspiring to meet her.

After a while when she gets to know that her brother too is dead, she is then left to decide between choosing life and death. But looking at her boyfriend praying at her bedside and wishing that she comes alive, she settles on living.

An amazing love story to find Adam feeling lonely without her and waits for her to wake up to be able to spend some more time with her.

About Gayle Forman

The scenes in the novel were partially inspired from real life events of Gayle Forman’s friends. Well, for Gayle, novel writing came after her course in writing. And that’s when she decided to jot down a story, which included the horrific accident that her friends met with. Actually, the accident was the push-start for her and what followed is a tale of love.

But unlike the character, Gayle doesn’t like classical music and developed the appreciation as she had to learn it to be able to write on it.

The author also did a research on Emergency Room Doctor (E. R. Doctor) and took help of her E. R. Doctor friend to correctly describe the accident scene. She also went to the accident spots even though she cannot stand the sight of blood.

Analysis

Forman’s attention to every detail to describing the sound, expressions and movements was really well put. The powerful blend of life, music, love, romance, relationship and the decision to choose was well crafted in writing. Nothing but the very decision to come back to life and live like you never had a past is worth a praise. This is a very rejoicing factor in the novel. The story was very touchy and captivating till the last page of the book.

Moreover, the character’s flashback reflecting her relationship had some sexual moments described and the words of profanity used. Yet, it is a book that is categorised among the good-reads for teens.

The book lays little emphasis on challenges that Mia encountered after the accident and on her relationship. The reason is that the author has chosen to keep the reading light with some humorous words. This makes the story even more gripping and heart-rending.

The metaphorical description of love and relations was so beautifully woven that one wants to stay for a long time in the same thoughts and expressions.

The one thing that the story boils down to, is the hardest decision that Mia faces: to live or not?

The Sequel to the book

If anyone wants to know what happens next, there is a sequel to the story, ‘Where She Went’ that hit the bookstores in April 2011. Another amazing story that received rave reviews. In this story, Mia’s dream to become a cellist comes alive and Adam’s that of leading a popular band. The devastating break-up that resulted in the relationship brought them together when Adam came to New York and this reunited them forever.

Adaptation of a book into a movie

How can a bestseller and critically acclaimed book (If I Stay) miss from being adapted into a movie?

The producer cum director, Catherine Hardwicke decided to put the words into motion by reeling it in theatres. And so work began in Summit Entertainment in December 2010, wherein Dakota Fanning, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Emily Browning were shortlisted to play Mia. But Catherine left and Brazilian Filmmaker, Heitor Dhalia chose to direct. Heitor too left and was then finally replaced by R. J. Cutler who chose Moretz as the lead cast.

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in association with Warner Bros. Pictures distributed the movie to the box office on August 22, 2014. The film made $78,396,071 million with a houseful of audience in the box office worldwide.

Shauna Cross, (the screenplay for the movie Whip it!) did the screenplay for If I Stay. The role of Adam was played by Jamie Blackley, the lead starrer of the film, ‘The Fifth Estate’.

The movie was different from the novel. Although the film received mixed reviews from the critics, it was praised for its acting, screenplay and storyline.  As per Tim Robey, a film critic reported in The Telegraph that the movie was ‘bland’ in bold titles. Robey also criticised the lead actor saying, “Chloë Grace Moretz falls flat as the lead in the film adaptation of the young adult novel bestseller If I Stay.”

According to the film critic, Bill Goodykoontz on ‘The Republic’, azcentral.com mentioned that the movie is melodramatic and further said “the problem is that almost everything in the film feels either forced or false, so the tears aren’t earned.”

Another film critic, Geoffrey Macnab for ‘The Independent’ wrote on their website, “Director Cutler can’t stem the gushing or make any of the emotions feel real.”

My personal opinion of the movie describes it as a plethora of efforts gone waste. Throughout the movie, I felt like I wanted to cry, but the direction wasn’t good enough to win my tears. Where the novel impressed, the movie failed, at least for me. I had to literally make efforts to be seated throughout the film, for the only reason that I was waiting for the feelings to develop somehow in the film. But it was nothing more than a disappointment. Maybe, they shouldn’t have made the movie at all!

Verdict

All-in-all, not including the film-adaptation, if you are looking at the book at the stores and can’t make up a decision, well pick it up! It’s worth it. Just one tip: stay away from the movie; it will spoil the flavours of the novel.

If you are a fan of romance novels with a whole bucket of drama poured in them, then this one’s for you.