Re-Read: If I Stay (If I Stay #1) – Gayle Forman

Re-Read: If I Stay (If I Stay #1) – Gayle FormanTitle: If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: April 2, 2009 by Penguin
Source: Amazon
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: August 11, 2013
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck... A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.


Gayle Forman is one of my all-time favorite authors and also a great writing inspiration. The beauty and emotion captured in her books are the reason I started the Gayle Forman Read Along… Well that and I needed a good excuse to re-read all of them because I’ve been meaning to do so ever since I finished JUST ONE DAY.

Re-reading IF I STAY was an interesting experience. I was really glad I got to share it with the people on the read along because there were some people reading not only IF I STAY for the first time, but any of Gayle Forman’s books for the first time! It was just really great to see them experience that. But also, one of my main fears of re-reading was that I wasn’t going to like it as much as my first read. While that kind of ended up happening in a way, I also fell in love with the book all over again.

It’s true that I didn’t enjoy IF I STAY as much as when I first read it. On my first read, I was simply blown away. It was the first Gayle Forman book I ever read and of course the beauty of her writing just swept me away, but I also think (and have discussed with other read along-ers!) that part of the reason I wasn’t as amazed on the re-read is because I knew exactly what was coming in Mia’s story. The initial read has a sort of suspense whether Mia will choose to stay or go, the surprise of the initial accident, and just little moments that a first-time reader isn’t expecting. I think all of those elements on a first read really makes the book amazing. It’s still gorgeous and heartbreaking and bittersweet the second time around, but those little surprises really make up a sizable chunk of a “wow factor” for this book.

Some things that I was able to pick up on my re-read that I hadn’t on my first read: a small little  hint at SISTERS IN SANITY! Mia makes a mention of a Portland band called Clod which was Brit’s band in SISTERS IN SANITY. I absolutely loved that because so much of SISTERS IN SANITY reminded me of IF I STAY. Obviously I had no idea on my first read since I only read SIS a couple months ago so I really, really enjoyed how those two books tied together! Very clever, Gayle!
I also think that already knowing the ending of the book helped me slow down and really get into the characters and their relationships. Whenever I get excited about the end of a book, I have this really bad habit where I can’t help but rush through what I’m reading to get to the end and see what the future holds in store for our characters. This being a re-read, the ending wasn’t a surprise to me so I really got to take my time and cherish the relationships that were blossoming as others ended, revel in Mia’s pain and sadness, observe things about characters and the setting that I hadn’t noticed before… I just really got to take in a lot more detail!

Um, HI — this also helped me rekindle my love of ADAM WILDE. Gayle……. thank you for Adam. I’ve already started the re-read of WHERE SHE WENT and I am SO in love with Adam. Of course, that’s a discussion for another day, but all of IF I STAY just really helped me remember how much I loved him and what a shame it was that I almost forgot!

If you haven’t read IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT yet, I highly recommend picking them up! They both instantly made me a Gayle Forman fan for life and will always hold a special place in my heart.


Mia Hall // Character Obsessions: Cello, spending time with her family, Adam Wilde.
Mia is such an interesting character for me. We get to know her (and her family) mostly through flashback stories as Mia is ultimately deciding whether to stay or to “go”. I feel like she’s two totally different people from before the accident and then after, which actually seems pretty natural considering what she went through (and sorry, I’m jumping there, already putting what I know from WHERE SHE WENT into play). She’s definitely always been a strong person, but there was always a little factor of doubt in her abilities and self-confidence. I think the accident changes her in the sense that she’s forced to appreciate what she has right in front of her (although that’s a bad way to put it because Mia really was always appreciative of her family) and not to let her self-doubt get in the way of anything she really wants.
Adam Wilde // Character Obsessions: Guitar, Shooting Star, music, Mia.
ADAM. Oh, Adam. He’s such a wonderful boyfriend to Mia and I absolutely melt when he interacts with Mia’s family, especially her younger brother Teddy. I love how he’s this edgy, almost-rock-star and he’s totally in love with a more conservative classical musician. They just fit together so well and their love of music really does bring them closer. I especially love that WHERE SHE WENT is from Adam’s perspective and… Well, we’ll get there!


Kept Me Hooked On: Gayle Forman. Oh, Gayle. I always love your books! I loved re-reading what made me first fall in love with Gayle Forman’s writing and lead to one of the ultimate book boyfriends, Adam Wilde!
Left Me Wanting More: Eh, not fair to say, but wow-factor. The re-read obviously wasn’t holding many surprises the second time around, but that’s purely because it’s a re-read!

Addiction Rating

Oh, you guys know I could gush about Gayle Forman forever. Just do me a favor and buy IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT.


Books like IF I STAY!

     Where She Went      Just One Day

You can also check out my post “12 Books to Read If You Liked IF I STAY” for more recommendations!

Sisters In Sanity – Gayle Forman

Sisters In Sanity – Gayle FormanTitle: Sisters in Sanity by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: August 16, 2007 by HarperCollins
Genres: Contemporary, Psych/Mental Health, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 3, 2013
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

For sixteen-year-old Brit Hemphill, it's hard to know who she can trust. Convinced she's out of control, her father has sentenced her to Red Rock: a center for supposedly rebellious teens, where the therapy consists of name-calling and the girls who get privileges are the ones who rat out their peers.
    But then Brit meets V, Bebe, Martha, and Cassie—four girls who keep her from going over the edge. Together, they'll hold on to their sanity and their sisterhood despite the bleak Red Rock reality.


I was really excited to get to SISTERS IN SANITY as part of the Gayle Forman Read Along! I’m a huuuuge fan of basically every other Gayle Forman book so I was curious to pick up her first book (although technically I guess she wrote another book/memoir from a journalistic aspect? Curious.) to see how it all started!

SISTERS IN SANITY is the story of Brit, a 16-year-old girl who was raised in coffee shops amongst bands and artists until her mother starts showing serious signs of schizophrenia and her family begins to fall apart. We first meet Brit when her father, now re-married, is dropping her off at Red Rock: a facility designed to help “straighten out” trouble teens. Her once normal upbringing is now seen as wild and disrespectful and Brit struggles to understand why her father has taken such extreme measures instead of… you know… talking to her.

Brit’s story was not an easy one to read in the sense that it just broke my heart to see such disconnect between Brit and her father when they were once a happy family. Really when it comes down to it, it seems like her dad is just scared. He fell apart after her mother’s mental illness and he never quite recovered and you can tell that he’s just scared Brit is going to end up just like her mother. He can’t deal with that so he sends her to Red Rock. I don’t think HE ever realized that, but I think that’s pretty obvious to the reader!

Red Rock is a terrible place. There’s nothing awfully brutal about it, but one thing here and one thing there started adding up until I finally had it (and Brit too). I seriously got angry towards the end of the book and then the administration really started to cross the line and I lost it. It was tough to see Brit cut off from the outside world and even more tough when her dad didn’t even seem to want to make contact most of the time.

I absolutely loved the “Sisters in Sanity”, as they called themselves — Brit made a fantastic group of friends that really did become like her family. They were all different personalities, but they bonded together over their mutual hate of Red Rock and their need for some sanity in the middle of a facility that treated everyone like they were crazy when they certainly weren’t. I think V was one of my favorite characters followed closely by Bebe. They were the two Sisters that stood out the most for me and I loved their friendship with Brit!

Overall, I really enjoyed SISTERS IN SANITY but it wasn’t nearly as deeply emotional as Gayle Forman’s later books. There was a really nice romance between Brit and Jed and I definitely swooned a few times! I didn’t quite fall head over heels though. If you’re a Gayle Forman fan, SISTERS IN SANITY will be a good read for you! It’s quick, interesting, and a nice balance of light and heavy. A really funny thing was that since I’ve read the rest of Gayle’s books, I could definitely see bits and pieces of them in her first novel. I saw SO much of IF I STAY in SISTERS IN SANITY with the music background, the coffee shops… It just made that that much more anxious to start IF I STAY soon!


Brit Hemphill // Character Obsessions: Getting out of Red Rock, standing her ground, proving she’s not crazy.
I felt so bad for Brit. She got put in Red Rock with no warning, no say, and just abandoned there, basically. She’s got a somewhat feisty personality, although not as wild as her father makes it out to be, and so she tries to fight the system which ultimately pushes her further into it. I loved how she made friends at Red Rock and essentially found a different kind of family when her actual relatives were not communicating with her or treating her well. I really liked her determination and it was interesting to get inside her head when she was thinking/worrying about her mother and if there was a chance that she could end up that way as well.
Virginia aka V // Character Obsessions: Helping Brit, sticking up for the Sisters, damning the man. V was another one of my favorite characters. She seems like a sort of protector of the group having been in Red Rock for a long time. She knows how the facility works and how to get what she wants so she was a great ally for Brit to have. V also has her own secrets as well which I found to be really interesting when the time came for that reveal!


Kept Me Hooked On: Gayle Forman. While this wasn’t the most emotionally raw GF book, I still love her writing and it was so interesting to see aspects of future books in here!
Left Me Wanting More: Romance! We do see some of Brit & Jed and what we got was adorable. I just wished it made up a bigger part of the story in the beginning.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I wasn’t as emotionally invested in this as other Gayle Forman books but… It’s Gayle Forman! It was really an enjoyable read and it’s a must-have to sit comfy-cozy next to my other Gayle Forman books 🙂

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE SISTERS IN SANITY

     Pushing the Limits        the Book of Broken Hearts

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) – Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) – Gayle FormanTitle: Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: January 8, 2013 by Penguin
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 9, 2012
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life. A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know. The first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!


Given it’s Gayle Forman, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to give it any less than five stars regardless, but JUST ONE DAY truly deserves it and earned a special place in my heart, as all Gayle’s books do. It was definitely an emotional roller coaster and even though nothing close to the events that play out in the book have happened to me, then sentiment is just the same: falling in love, doubting how fast those feelings come on, fear of rejection, being rejected, and the quest to find the answers WHY. I can honestly say I’ve been through those exact situations and felt those feelings far too many times in my own teen/college years and I was right there with Allyson as she fell in love and then felt her heart break over and over again. I don’t know what more to say about the book except that I hope whoever reads this feels the same way I did – Totally invested, totally connected with the characters. I think if you’ve ever felt that way in a relationship (or non-relationship in some cases) that I think you’ll easily fall right into step with the characters that Gayle Forman creates.

It’s also further proof that I can actually read books set in foreign countries. Clearly before the select contemporary romances that I had read this year, I was not reading the right books. I’ve never been to Europe, but through the beautiful writing of Gayle Forman and several other contemporary writers, I’ve never felt more at home in Paris, London, Amsterdam, and various other sections of Europe. To me, that really says a lot, and I think the reason why is that I wasn’t just getting descriptions of events that happened here and there – It was an emotional connection to that canal, that house, that park that made it feel like a place I could see myself. I have a tendency to tie places back to feelings and that was something that was expertly written in Just One Day.

Of course I recommend it to anyone and everyone. I’ll recommend Gayle’s books to people until the end of time and there’s something so timeless about not only her writing but the way she writes her characters. I feel like even in 10 years when new generations pick up her books, they won’t feel dated. I’m sure some minute details like the technology of whatever cell phones turn into in 10 years may be outdated, but only slightly so because the focus is almost entirely on the feelings that Allyson experiences and the universal message that she not only learns for herself, but that the readers can pick up about their own lives as well.

And the end – AH! I feel like I’ll definitely read this book a few times before I can get my hands on Willem’s side of the story. I know it may feel like a long way from now, but maybe like the characters, I can wait JUST ONE YEAR.


Allyson/Lulu: What I loved so much about JUST ONE DAY is that we see Allyson go through this incredible personal transformation and realization that her life isn’t what she wants it to be, all stemming from the adventure and whirlwind romance she had with Willem in Paris. Going one step further, I absolutely, positively loved that she had a perfectly normal life — not affected by an accident, a disease, a death — and it’s like the whole Paris experience with Willem allowed her to see that her perfectly normal life really wasn’t hers at all. It was a ghost of her mother’s life, her friend’s life, all fitted together like perfect pieces of a puzzle so that until she stepped back and looked at the puzzle as a whole, she couldn’t tell how broken and fragmented it really was (wow, maybe I should be writing my own novel here haha). I just loved that we got this amazing story out of what seemed so ordinary and entirely relatable.
Allyson was also extremely relatable to me in the sense that she’s not sure how she really feels about Willem. Did she fall in love with him? Is it even possible to love someone, to miss someone, to care about them that much after one day? I’ve felt that way many times myself with unrequited crushes and after things turn south, I started to question all my feelings. How real could they have been if they didn’t seem to be reciprocated? Was I making a big deal out of nothing? Was I being over-dramatic and romanticizing everything that happened or were my feelings actually justified? These are all the questions that Allyson agonizes over and I was right there with her. Gayle Forman did a fantastic job of allowing the readers to experience all of these emotions with Allyson as she tries to figure out what’s real and what was just an act.
Willem: Willem is definitely an enigma throughout the book and as painful as it was to witness, I loved that I didn’t really get a clear picture of him, as seen through Allyson’s eyes. It’s true of any guy, really. You’d like to think you know what their best intentions are, how they feel about you, but there’s always that lingering doubt. The attraction between Willem and Allyson is obviously real and they had a very real series of moments in Paris, but when that’s gone, the doubt sets back in but the readers are still left with the pull back to Paris, left wanting to believe that it was all real. I wanted to believe that Willem really did have good intentions with Allyson, but situation after situation pops up and the readers are left with a tangled mess of head versus heart. When it comes down to it, his flaws are what make him a truly believable character and really drive the story. 


Please note all quotes are from the ARC of Just One Day. Exact wording and page numbers subject to change. 

p85: “‘I think you’re the sort of person who finds money on the ground and waves it in the air and asks if anyone has lost it. I think you cry in movies that aren’t even sad because you have a soft heart, though you don’t let it show. I think you do things that scare you, and that makes you braver than those adrenaline junkies who bungee-jump off bridges.'”

p89: “‘Did you just quote Shakespeare to a cop?’ I asked.”

p104-105: “There’s such a delicious surrender in the words, and I feel myself slipping away to him. Some small part of me warns against this. This is just one day. I am just one girl. But the part that can resists, that would resist, I woke up finally liberated of her.”

p125: “He said that earlier, about accidents, about never know which one is just a kink in the road and which one is a fork, about never knowing your life is changing until it’s already happened.”

p130: “Another day. That’s all I’m asking. Just one more day. I can’t think beyond that. Beyond that, things get complicated.”


Buy it… ASAP!

Wow, I just LOVED this book and totally connected with it. Gayle Forman totally knocked this one out of the park (again)!



Obviously, if you haven’t read Gayle Forman’s first duet of contemporary novels, IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT, PLEASE GO READ THOSE NOW (my SUPER old reviews are linked up to the covers above). They’re what first led me to fall in love with not only Gayle’s works, but contemporary romance in general.

Where She Went (If I Stay #2) – Gayle Forman

Where She Went (If I Stay #2) – Gayle FormanTitle: Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: April 5, 2011 by Penguin
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 26, 2012
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

Picking up several years after the dramatic conclusion of If I Stay, Where She Went continues the story of Adam and Mia, from Adam's point of view. Ever since Mia's decision to stay -- but not with him -- Adam's career has been on a wonderful trajectory. His album, borne from the anguish and pain of their breakup, has made him a bona fide star. And Mia herself has become a top-rate cellist, playing in some of the finest venues in the world. When their respective paths put them both in New York City at the same time, the result is a single night in which the two reunite -- with wholly satisfying results


I must admit, at first I was a little bit unsure that we were getting this story from Adam’s perspective after falling totally in love with Mia’s story in IF I STAY. Needless to say, I was sooo not disappointed! It took a small bit of adjusting from a female perspective to a male perspective since I wasn’t all together ready for it, but writing from any angle, Gayle Forman does an amazing job with building characters and just overall beautiful writing. I definitely saw the difference between Mia’s first person and Adam’s — I felt like in the first book, Mia had a very pronounced maturity to her tone and her presence whereas with Adam (and we’re supposed to), we have more of a “dude” feel. By that, I don’t mean that we have less emotion because that is nowhere near the case. The language mostly is just a little bit looser and we see a more masculine side, a little bit rougher without being abrasive, and a little less proper.

Okay, now to the story! I loved it. Love love love this series! If I was impressed with the first book, this one surely didn’t disappoint me as I often fear with sequels. I immediately picked up on Adam’s perspective and to be honest, despite his forthcoming of emotion at Mia’s beside, I wasn’t really sure if he was in love with Mia and how strong his feelings actually were. Throughout all of Where She Went, we see just how rough it’s been on him since he and Mia stopped communicating and just how much she really did mean to him. She was his world, and you can see and feel the devastation coming from him.

Guys, I’m not afraid to admit it. I totally cried. I got so sucked into the story and I just totally let myself be thrown into that world. There was a totally heartbreaking moment which I needed to note, and as all of the poignant moments in my life (at least in my head), it had a soundtrack. Adam turns on Sufjan Steven’s song “Chicago” — and with that album (Illinoise) always standing out in my head as being particularly emotional (let’s not even talk about “Casimir Pulaski Day” because I cry every time I hear that song), I completely lost it. During that scene as he’s listening to that song, I had it playing in my head and I just started letting the tears fly. I’ve always been strong into music so I absolutely adore when authors put songs into their stories. It really brings me in a layer further and helps me actually put myself in the story since I have a connection to the music that’s play (something I forgot to mention in my review of ONE MOMENT by Kristina McBride  — rats!). That, and I always wanted to be the person who puts together soundtracks for movies. Another dream job!

Sidenotes aside (wait, isn’t that redundant?), I loved the story and I absolutely adore Gayle Forman’s writing! I’m so glad I rushed to read this book so soon after the first! Usually I put a little gap in there so I get to enjoy a series as long as I can/as long as I can hold out, but when I found this in the library, I had to pick it up right away!


5/5 stars
Loooooove. End of story.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman — Please go read the first one if you haven’t already! Please!!!!!!
One Moment by Kristina McBride — Another contemporary YA that I loved! Some moments just so full of emotion, worry, panic, love, betrayal.. Man, this has got it all.

You can also check out my post “12 Books to Read If You Liked IF I STAY” for more recommendations!

If I Stay (If I Stay #1) – Gayle Forman

If I Stay (If I Stay #1) – Gayle FormanTitle: If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: April 2, 2009 by Penguin
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 4, 2012
Related Posts: Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck... A sophisticated, layered, and heartachingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make—and the ultimate choice Mia commands.


Ho. Ly. Cow. This book was phenomenal. First I have to say bravo to Gayle Forman for such beautiful writing – I read a lot of cheesy books and yes, they’re fun, but nothing is better than a flat out wonderfully written story. Although this is dubbed YA fiction, Mia’s narration throughout the novel does not feel juvenile at all. I feel like any age can read this book and appreciate it in its entirety. Every character in this book has a story and I felt such connection, like this was the story of a real family, real friends, and not just characters on pages. I connected with everything Mia was feeling throughout her struggle to fight to stay alive or decide if it was her time to go. Wow, it just really moved me, as cheesy as that sounds. There’s just no other way to put it. So mature, so emotional, so gripping. I laughed, I smiled, and most of all I cried. Just read the book. It’s so worth it!

For a more in-depth review, check out my thoughts of my re-read of IF I STAY!


5/5 stars
Love love loved it!


If You Liked This, You Might Like…
One Day by David Nicholls — I actually read this because the movie was coming out… And then I never saw the movie (oops). This was another story that I was captivated with – The 20 year love story of Emma and Dexter, struggling to decide whether they’re supposed to be together or end up apart. It actually took me just a little bit to get into the story, but this was another one that when I finished, I just had this inexplicable feeling leftover and it stuck with me for days. Really moving story, lots of pull on the emotions of the characters, and a bittersweet ending.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold —  Susie Salmon’s story takes place after she is already dead, observing her family move along with their life after her disappearance as she hopes they’ll solve the mystery of her murder – I actually think If I Stay is WAY better than The Lovely Bones. If I Stay is so touching and I feel like it connects much more with the reader and brings them in to the book, gets them involved with the characters. While The Lovely Bones is a similar-type story, I actually found it a little too long and dragged on.

You can also check out my post “12 Books to Read If You Liked IF I STAY” for more recommendations!