If I Stay: Chapters 8 to 15 [End of Book] – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

Mia finally gets to see Adam.     

Review (with Spoilers)

While I do struggle, sometimes, to get through this book, I will say it is only because the quality is just inconsistent. Some chapters have it where one-half is good, and the other is bleh. Other chapters have it where Mia is simply the medium to talk about more interesting people, and then there is this chapter. For the first time in a while, I got excited and really into the story, almost to the point of tears while I was writing the review, and picturing the scene in my mind.

Characters & Story

In what seems to be a rather well made chapter, we go from Mia and Adam’s first Halloween’s to Adam finally showing up at the ICU. But, let’s focus on the first half for a bit. Now, being that Mia is sort of a square, she rarely, if ever, dresses up for Halloween. Pretty much, she takes out her brother, while costume-less, and that is how she celebrates. But, seeing that Adam has a gig on Halloween, much less she wants to embody the type of girl who would fit in at his concerts, she decides to change things up.

So, being that her mom is a semi-retired rock chick, she goes to her and mixes some of the best 80s punk/ rock girl material, with Debbie Harry seemingly being the main inspiration, and then she heads off with Adam. Now, being that her mother is of the “fake it till you make it” philosophy, Mia really does more than have the appearance but tries to really emulate the people she usually just sees backstage. She talks with one girl who, because it is Halloween, is dressed as a flapper, she goes into the mosh pit and dances, and even stays with Adam for the set after his.

All of this though leads to Mia having a moment of vulnerability, in which she asks: “So you like me like this?” in such a way as to see if he would prefer a rock chick rather than the usual Mia. And this smooth boy comes up with the reply, as he strokes her brown hair underneath the blonde, with purple streak wig,

“This is the you I like. You definitely dressed sexier and are, you know, blond, and that’s different. But the you who you are tonight is the same you I was in love with yesterday, the same you I’ll be in love with tomorrow. I love that you’re fragile and tough, quiet and kick-ass. Hell, you’re one of the punkest girls I know, no matter who you listen to or what you wear.”

And I swear to you, this was perhaps the first chapter which actually had a good setup for the 2nd half. For, as soon as that story ends, and the clock hits 7:13 PM, Mia sees Kim bringing Adam into the hospital and with what he just said to her, you’re feelings get into the story and you begin to not only acknowledge how good a friend Kim is for going to Portland and back, especially with a mom as nagging as her seems but to then take Adam to her, oh, she is one in a million.

Focusing on Adam though, for the first time, in a while or ever, with this book I was getting really into it because I was getting good visuals of this dude, who you have a pretty good idea of, seeing his girlfriend who is in some sort of coma. But, before tears could develop, a nurse stops him in the hall and says only immediate family can enter. Making me wonder how cousins count as immediate family, much less how Kim got in earlier? But, considering how Mia looks like Kim more than her actual family, I guess they let that slide. As for Adam though, sadly he is separated from Mia as the cold-hearted nurse rejects his approach.

Either way, this was one of the first chapters, in my memory, that actually connected the first and second half, and with that, I found myself enjoying the story a bit more. Hopefully, in Chapter 9, which will be posted soon, this method is continued.

Things to Note

I am reading this on an e-reader, so I am unfortunately unable to give you page #s since I don’t see any.


Chapter 9

Overview

Two good chapters in a row, could this be a trend?!

Review (with Spoilers)

Low and behold, the design of chapter 8 is staying strong and with the story being a bit more coherent, things are looking up. I’m starting to think, in fact, maybe the first 6 chapters were just a warm-up and now Forman got into the swing of things and started writing like mad. Either way, let’s go into the story!

Characters & Story

With this chapter, Mia begins things by talking, briefly, about her days with Kim before Adam came around and how they structured the human world so that everyone was either this or that. The virgins, and the not virgins; the people who tried to be cool, and those who were just naturally cool; and then there is the girls who date in High School and the ones who don’t. But, even with their whirlwind start of a friendship, for reasons I am not fully sure of, Mia worried about how things would be since she is now dating. Be it because she omitted information about her date with Adam, the omit being the kiss, or the issue, which seems to be mutually agreed upon, of a girl getting a guy “and speaking in the first-person plural. ‘We love the winter. We think Velvet Underground is seminal.’” Either way, once she came out about Adam and agreed to never become one of those girls, they were cool.

Issue is, though, Mia seemingly wanted to create a tightknit group between her best friend and boyfriend but, until Mia ended up in the hospital, the two were noted as cordial, but distant. This bothered Mia, again for reasons I am not fully sure of, to the point she got on Adam’s case for not trying hard enough. Luckily, though, Kim set her straight by saying “Look, I accept Adam because you love him. And I assume he accepts me because you love me. If it makes you feel any better, your love binds us. And that’s enough. Me and him don’t have to love each other.”

However, with Mia now in the ICU, separated from her beloved by a callous nurse, and Kim being Adam’s partner in crime to try to figure out a way to get to her, seemingly she may have gotten her wish.

Overall

I am feeling increasingly better about this book. Mind you, I’m still not sold on the idea of turning this into a film, much less recommending people to buy it, but I do feel a bit entertained. I just wish though they started making the past and present sections of the chapter more interlinked, way before now. For, really, as noted I think in the last review, that was the real big issue to me, alongside Mia seeming so normal that she is sort of a bore. But, then again, normal people have lives worth telling stories about too, I guess.


Chapter 10

Overview

With Adam finally having a way to get to Mia, it seems like things maybe on the up and up.

Review (with Spoilers)

Well, this chapter didn’t continue that first half and second half matching up, but at least the 2nd half was exciting, though sort of weird.

Characters & Story

In the past half of the story, Mia talks about the time she was thinking of quitting the cello since, seemingly, she was losing her passion for it. She would watch her dad play drums, and get lost in making music, and meanwhile she may have been learning and becoming good, but seemingly the energy her dad got out of playing just wasn’t there. It was getting so bad that she thought about converting to the drums, or another rock like instrument to get this feeling her dad seems to get. Luckily, though, with a friend like Kim, she ends up learning what was missing in her playing: competition.

Thus far, Mia hasn’t really played with other musicians, which seemed weird to me, and the reason for this is because she thought of the cello as a solitary instrument. But, with Kim introducing a Nirvana unplugged CD, and finding a Band camp, which mostly featured jazz and classical musicians, Mia found a new lease on cello playing. And also was reminded of how much of a blessing Kim is to her life.

Leading us to talk about the two characters worth noting who pop up in the 2nd half. The first one is this eccentrically described rock goddess Brooke Vega. She is the one who Adam planned to use to create a distraction since her, and her band Bikini, seem to be a big deal. Unfortunately, though, while her and her groupies get Adam close, he doesn’t get to touch his sleeping beauty. However, then comes Willow.

Willow entering the story is a blessing for Adam, but ominous for Mia. You see, Willow was at the hospital where Teddy is and, as Mia notes, for some reason all of Mia’s family is with her. Leading to Mia putting two and two together and figuring out: Teddy is dead.

Which leaves the chapter on a bit of a sour note, but with now her little brother and parents dead, Mia’s choice of staying becomes increasingly harder. Mind you, she does have Adam, her family, and extended family, like Willow, but even with her body now off a defibrillator, she still hasn’t figured out how to get back in her body. And now we are left wondering, with three of the biggest influences in her life gone, would she prefer to move on with them, or rejoin the world of the living and hold onto the loving memories of the ones who she is waiting to see until later? Maybe this may lead to a dark turn since I do feel it is a bit strange that she is narrating this whole story and, at least when I read it in my head, it seems like the impact of her parents’ death isn’t in her voice that much. With Teddy though, maybe this will be a reminder and may send her into a mixed emotions type mood. After all, Adam is here, but now she is all but waiting for the confirmation that her little brother died. Damn.


Chapter 11

Overview

In a rather short chapter, Mia goes over the things she’ll miss, like Teddy, if she decides to stay.

Review (with Spoilers)

So, I found, on Tumblr, some pictures of Chloe Grace Moretz as Mia and really, I think this book maybe better as a film than a novel at this point. I say this because there is just so much information which just doesn’t match up, like the first half and second half of most of the chapters. But, with a film, there are new eyes, a different writer, and a need to cut the fat. Making my hopes for the film higher since, in reality, I don’t necessarily think the book, thus far, is bad, but I still can’t deal with the fact Mia is supposed to be the protagonist, but really feels like a supporting role.

Characters & Story

With that said, though, let me reiterate that I really do get highly frustrated with this book. The first half of the chapter speaks on Mia’s relationship with Teddy which, considering they just confirmed his death two chapters ago, would have been a nice way to start off the last chapter. Also, this chapter is so short, I think it would have been nice if they combined it with the last one so that consistency that was going for 2-3 chapters could have stayed.

But, when it comes to story, this chapter pretty much begins to talk about Mia’s decision about staying. She lost her parents, her little brother, and now she is wondering if she wants to comeback and live the life of an orphan. And, with this, Mia becomes just a little deeper than I feel like she has been presented for most of the book. Not to make it sound like I think she is shallow, but she so often diverts attention away from her opinion or feelings, that it is like she is shy with us, the reader. It seems though this may end soon, as she slips into a mindset which seemingly leads her body to state which is going to require surgery. Showing that, while she may not know a way to wake up, seemingly giving up and succumbing to depression is her way out.

Collected Quotes

“I don’t want to be in this suspended state where I can see what’s happening, where I’m aware of what I’m feeling without being able to actually feel it.”

—           If I Stay – Gayle Forman


Chapter 12

Overview

As if foreshadowing, Mia talks about the one funeral she has been to and talks about looking for someone else to decide if she stays or goes.

Review (with Spoilers)

At this point, this book is like that annoying friend you had in maybe Middle School or High School who, despite how much you complain about it, you end up hanging around them. Something about this chapter, though, and admittedly it could be because I was watching a video which got me all emotional, that really makes you think someone is prepping the coffin and all Mia has to say is “I’m ready.” And, from what it seems, she maybe.

Characters & Story

The first half of the chapter deals with Mia’s first funeral and, with this, the tone feels set. Everyone in her family, after going to a friend’s funeral, talks about how they want their funerals. Willow and Henry want certain songs to play, Mia’s mom wants to live into her 90s with Mia’s dad and have Mia play at their funeral, but seemingly the only wish thus far granted is Mia’s mom. She wanted to die simultaneously with her husband and death thought, of all the wishes to grant, that’d be the one.

Leaving present day Mia still stuck in limbo and now left with nothing but the notion that the less she cares to live, the more easily she can slip into death. But, it seems like there is some type of guilt in dying, to me anyway. Being that everyone has shown up, and are rooting for her, it makes it seem like death is the selfish option. For, despite all she has lost, she has to remember that her family members lost someone too. But, near the end of the chapter, her grandpa vindicates her. For, despite crying in silence, and wanting her to stay, in a moment almost guaranteed to make you cry, he says

“It’s okay […] if you want to go. Everyone wants you to stay. I want you to stay more than I’ve ever wanted anything in my life […] But that’s what I want and I could see why it might not be what you want. So I just wanted to tell you that I understand if you go. It’s okay if you have to leave us. It’s okay if you want to stop fighting” (again, I don’t see any page numbers on this e-reader version so I can’t properly cite).

And with that said, this little bit of permission, it seems we are setup for the beginning of the end.

Overall

Making, for me, a rather emotional chapter. For while I do complain damn near every other chapter, the longer you stick with something, the more attached you get to it. After all, it isn’t like I am indifferent to the book, I like it, but keep seeing ways it can be better, and hope the movie does better. At the same time, though, while it may not feel like a punch in the gut, I do feel emotionally invested in Mia’s decision strangely. So, while it has been my main complaint, maybe us getting to know her family, friends, and, to some extent, her, was good because it introduced us to more than just her world, but also the worlds she took part in, and let us know what her place was within them.


Chapter 13

Overview

With her grandpa giving the go ahead, and one of her father’s old songs playing in her head, Mia seems like she is slowly coming to terms with dying. But then Adam takes her hand.

Review (with Spoilers)

We are coming toward the end of the book and the decision seems like it is coming closer and closer. Will Mia decide to join her nuclear family in the afterlife? Will she try to stick it out, maybe have three kids, and name them after her family members? Who knows, but the situation does look a bit bleak.

Characters & Story

The first half and 2nd half are connected, and the focus of the first half begins with the father’s transformation from a punk band drummer, to a school teacher. Seemingly, for reasons I don’t fully understand, despite having Mia, Mia’s father pretty much continued his usual lifestyle of being in the band, touring and etc., but seemingly, with the idea of a son being on the way, I guess he decided it was time to put away parts of his youth and grow up a little. Leaving me to think that between the idea of leaving his wife with two kids, and him not being around to father his son, this maybe one of the main reasons he decided to go to grad school, become a teacher, quit the band, and calm his life down a little bit.

But, what Mia takes note of in this chapter are her dad’s lyrics. As her grandpa points out, Mia’s dad is a fantastic storyteller, and Mia, being that she was 10 when her dad started to transform, and Teddy came around, didn’t fully realize that her dad was more than the drummer, but songwriter too. One song in particular “Waiting for Vengeance” plays in Mia’s mind as she desperately wants someone to decide whether to live or not for her. And seemingly, she takes the line “I’m not choosing, but I’m running out of fight” to possibly be her father’s way of understanding, like her grandpa, that she wants to leave. But then she thinks of her mom probably being pissed, then watches Adam cry at the idea, much less think he is the reason she had to get sudden surgery, and then she seemingly slips back into limbo.

However, what probably pushes her toward living is Adam trying to warm her hands. A gesture he has done since they started dating since her hands have always been cold. He blows on them and tries to warm her “bionic” hands up. And with this, nostalgia of feeling his touch come over her and with him whispering not to go because it would likely lead to him writing a song, it seems like she maybe slowly creeping back toward trying to be amongst the living.


Chapter 14

Overview

As Mia begins going over the things she’ll miss, Kim reminds her that it isn’t just Adam and her grandparents pulling for her.

Review (with Spoilers)

For whatever reason, after many chapters which were jagged, everything now flows in such a way where I feel like I can get emotionally into the book. Adam and Mia you want to root for; you want Mia to live, even though it will probably be more painful to live than her post-coma recovery will be; and damn if her indecision about living or dying doesn’t get on your nerves, and yet is understandable.

Characters & Story

The chapter starts out be us getting more background on Mia and Adam’s relationship. First by explaining his last line in the previous chapter about her not making him write a song, which deals with the fact he says the only way he would write a song about her is if she did something like cheat on him. In this case, though, it seems her dying would be the reason he would write a possible ode to her. That aside, the main focus is about Mia reminding us that despite all this cuteness when it comes to their relationship, it isn’t perfect. Being that there are things she wanted, like him being cooler with Kim, and things he wanted, being Mia not so anti-social at his shows, there are little kinks in their relationship which maybe easily forgettable to us, the readers, but are still major things for Adam and Mia.

The big issue though which seems to be leading Mia to tears is the issue that both are on the brink of getting their big start. For, with Adam’s band, Shining Star, being signed to a mid-level label and Mia possibly getting into Julliard, they both are pretty much on the road to success and Mia sees the split between her going East and him staying West to be a fork in the road. With this, awkwardness ensues and plans are hard to make because neither is highly sure of what may happen in just a few weeks’ time and neither really seems to want to force a long-term commitment out of the other.

And really, as of now, it seems Adam is the main thing making Mia question leaving. For, with what her grandpa says, and what Kim says at the beginning of her visit, she seemingly feels a bit vindicated when it comes to her decision on leaving. But, after Kim tries to talk to Mia as if she isn’t comatose with tubes coming out everywhere, she brings up a point which I haven’t really thought of. Consider this: Mia talks throughout the book about all the people she has met and tells us so much about them that we feel like we get to know them more than we get to know her. But, how do they feel about her? The way Kim speaks makes you think about that as more than just Mia’s family tries to visit or even help Adam to make sure he can see his girl. And the way Kim puts it, more people want to see Mia, but Mia’s aunt is denying them since after the stunt Kim and Adam pulled, they don’t want to be a further nuisance. Leaving me to wonder, while we know Mia questions her relevancy in many ways, could perhaps Kim’s line about how: “There are like twenty people in that waiting room right now. Some of them are related to you. Some of them are not. But we’re all your family” be what pushes Mia to wake up under the realization that, yes, she lost her parents and brother, but she is far from an orphan? And is probably loved by more than she actual takes account of?


Chapter 15

Overview

Mia comes to a decision.

Review (with Spoilers)

It is the final moments in which Adam makes one desperate plea. But, with memories rushing through Mia’s head, what will her final decision be? Will she join her parents and brother in the afterlife, or live with a large crater of which can never be filled? Spoilers below.

Characters & Story

As with the last few chapters, though there are slight glimmers of hope, Mia seems pretty much set on dying. For while she has a fondness for the good times, with there being little, to no, possibility of life matching those happy memories, for they are tainted by the missing shadows of the ones she loves, it seems that she doesn’t wish to live that much anymore. And all she wants now is just Adam’s permission to leave. She got her grandpa to vindicate her, could deal with dying and leaving Kim’s life, but Adam was the hook keeping her from going off to the next life.

Leading him to make one final move and with that, it is like he gives her a shot of adrenaline. Memories flood her brain of Teddy, visions of Adam, her mom, and dad, visiting a cemetery, and then there is a bright light. And, for a moment, we aren’t sure if the light signifies her dying and being ripped from her body, or her coming back to life.

And then you realize, as she wanted, her decision was made for her. For between Adam bringing in the music of Yo-Yo Ma, his hand still keeping her from drifting away, and that rush of memories, all together that combination acted as a defibrillator and brought her back to life. One in which the pain was immediately felt, and seemingly this is just the beginning of not just a physical, but mental recovery.

Overall

I will not pretend like these last few chapters have completely changed my opinion of the book. The rocky start had me very frustrated and I still find it strange how until a few chapters ago, the first half and second half of every chapter seemed almost unrelated, in terms of one leading to the other. However, once the two sides began to be more cohesive, and you began to understand why Mia/ Forman poured so much into the supporting characters, it did begin to make sense.

Now, as for how this will translate on film, honestly, I don’t know. Perhaps after Perks of Being a Wallflower, I am a bit jaded by the idea of a book I like being turned into a movie for so much gets cut, rearranged, and edited out. And while I think editing the story so it flows better could be something the movie could do well, I just look at If I Stay as more of a story I could see ABC Family adapting into a series, more so than an hour and a half movie.

And I say this feeling conflicted. For, to me, If I Stay, would have likely been a book I could finish in a few days if I had nothing to do. It, to me, has its complexities with Mia’s situation and the emotional toll, but once you get past the car crash it does lose a lot of its steam, and without Adam and her’s relationship, I really can’t find a draw to this. Due to that, it makes me think of all the other teen romance movies put out there when a guy changes the girl’s life, and it makes it really seem that while Forman may have fought, in some way, to make this different, it ultimately ended up the same. At least in this book since apparently in the sequel things happen in her and Adam’s relationship, but I digress.

What I’m trying to say, overall, is that, while the young adult market is hot and everyone seems to be trying to find the next Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games and etc., a lot of books are being discovered and prepped for adaptions and, to me, while I adore Chloe Moretz as an actress, and don’t think this book is horrible, I think it would have made a better miniseries which could have explored Mia life a bit more, over a film which likely is going to  probably cut a lot of the interesting bits dealing with us learning about her friends and family, and leave us with just her love story with Adam, and maybe have this glazed with her dealing with her family’s death. Though, hopefully, I’m wrong. We won’t find out though until the movie comes out on August 22nd, meaning likely an overview/ review of the movie will come the 23rd since Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is scheduled the same weekend. Bummer.

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