If I Stay is a rather short book, less than 200 pages, but it's packed full of emotion so deep and events so blinding, it doesn't need any more. Having inhaled this story, I can say that I'm an emotional wreck blown away by the impact of the words. I'm going to be thinking about this one for a long, long time.
Not giving anything away, this is the story of Mia, whose nice, ordinary family is torn apart by a horrific car wreck one very normal day. Mia tells the story as she "exists" outside her body from the moment she wakes from the wreck; she watches what happens in the hospital and comes to realize it's going to be up to her whether or not she stays in this world or goes on. She's there when her family visits, when her best friend arrives, and when her boyfriend breaks the rules in order to see her in the ICU. She has to accept the unacceptable and decide if it's all worth it. Intermingled in the tale of what's happening to Mia now are flashback stories showing her relationship with Adam, her dedication to her cello, and times she had with her parents and younger brother. Heart-wrenching stories, stories that show that sometimes what seems most normal is actually incredibly special and not to be taken for granted.
I absolutely loved this book. I loved Mia's voice, and most of all, I loved the people she loved. My heart broke so many times, but in so many wonderful ways. Many readers (myself included to some degree) will feel most strongly about younger brother Teddy, but I truly was most moved by Gramps. When he speaks quietly to Mia, I could feel every word. This book is a beautiful, horrible, astounding monument to the ordinary lives of people and what it means to be truly alive. Highly recommended.