Why, cello there…

Bingo Square: Book That is a Movie in 2014

Book: If I Stay, Gayle Forman

Favorite Quote: Adam lay down on my bed, stretching his arms above his head. His whole face was grinning–eyes nose, mouth. “Play me,” he said.


“I want you to play me like a cello.”

…Aaaanndd it goes on from there. I’ve never giggled so hard in my life. Yikes.

Main character, Mia Hall, and some baseball card type stats:
Parents: Progressive, avid rock music lovers, clever, understanding…their coolness factor makes them almost unbelievable characters
Siblings: brother; loves him like a son
Bestie: serious, mature, grouchy
Boyfriend: One (What? No love triangle? They’re all the rage. Oh, and while I’m at it, I should tell you this thing isn’t post-apocalyptic either.); singer/writer/guitarist his band
Hobbies: Cello–classically trained; desperately hoping to snag a spot at Juilliard
Life’s Problem: Death

Weaving between the past and the present, we discover that Mia and her family were in a tragic car accident. Her parents die, and Mia finds herself at the hospital having a major out-of-body experience while in a coma. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found it to be unclear what she can and cannot do in this ghost-like state. She wanders (sort of), listens to bereft visitors, and gives the readers a lot of backstory.

By telling of her past, Forman is trying to get the reader to understand why it would be such a difficult choice for Mia to go on without her family. She tries to explain through each story everything that’s lost to Mia. I don’t want to give away too much, but I’m assuming the reader is to feel her intense struggle and put themselves in Mia’s shoes.

After reading the synopsis, you just know (JUST KNOW!) how it’s going to end. I didn’t feel Mia’s inner turmoil. I didn’t need her to verbalize her struggle or anything (after all, we all learned that we are to show, not tell in Writing 101), but Mia got a little too Scarlett O’Hara. She was very “I’ll think of it another day…” as she continued to brush off her feelings. I think she was waiting to find out about her brother’s status, but when we finally find out, it feels rushed and squashed in at the end of the book.

I appreciate the structure of the story. It wouldn’t have been as readable had it been told from beginning to end rather than weaving the stories from the past throughout. The characters were likable, and it was a quick and easy read. I think wanted it to be, like, totally heavy, man. I didn’t feel any sort of manipulation–which was unexpected, really–but it was predictable and meh. I felt meh.

I rented this book at the library after I saw the preview for the movie. Am I going to see this movie even though I felt meh about the book? Of course, sillies. The previews don’t get me pumped or anything, but I’ll be there with a pal I’ve undoubtedly had to force, a box of overpriced chocolate, and enough soda to drown a fish.

PS The cute scene in the preview where the boyfriend recreates the ceiling of the audition space from Juilliard in Mia’s room? Not in the book.

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