If I Stay: Book Proves Better Than Movie


     Decisions are a huge part of life; some are smaller than others, like deciding what to have for lunch, or bigger, like deciding which college to go to. But deciding whether to fight to stay alive or give up and go- that would be a different question. If I Stay, written by novelist Gayle Forman, is a thought-provoking novel of a young girl trying to decide whether to stay after a tragic accident. Although the book was published in 2009, it has been growing in popularity and has recently been made into a film. The movie adaptation opened in theatres August 22 and has received mixed reviews.

     In If I Stay, the main character, Mia, has flashbacks from her past while she struggles to comprehend the present and decide her future. Early in the book, her family is involved in a car accident, so Mia is forced to decide whether to stay and live a life without her family or join them wherever they have gone. As the narrator, Mia allows readers to get to see everything through her eyes. The little stories and flashbacks she has provide breaks from the action of the car accident, and bring the reader to the sense that Mia’s life is “flashing before her eyes.” Also, there is just enough romance, friendship, and emphasis on love to serve as a balance to the sadness of the accident, and it is eye-opening about what we live for in life. Foreman’s writing style is captivating, and the action makes readers want to not stop reading.
Mia is a shy, almost normal girl who does not seem to realize what an extraordinary life she has. She is a great character because she is very relatable as she has to deal with issues and faults like those in reality. If I Stay is of her making one big decision, so the beginning is a bit slow to get into. Beyond the beginning, the main plot and branches of stories flow nicely. The ending of If I Stay is a major cliffhanger, but Forman wrote the sequel Where She Went that ties up the loose ends.

     The movie used the same structure as the book, with flashbacks and the characters jumping events, which still gave the near-death feeling. As a whole, it was a tearjerker, but I found that the emotion was not as strong as compared to that of The Fault in Our Stars, a similar book-to-movie hit about love, life, and tragedy. Something about it was just not as moving, as if the acting was good but not deep enough for a story of such emotion as the loss of Mia’s family. However, the film was very close to the book in terms of events and dialogue, which I enjoyed, and I could only find a few minor details that were changed.

     The actors were good at portraying the characters true to the book, but I found that they were lacking emotion at some times, as stated earlier. Chloë Grace Moretz, who played Mia Hall, was and is a fantastic actress, but I found her performance not as connecting as that of Shailene Woodley’s, who played Hazel Grace Lancaster in The Fault in Our Stars. I really felt the pain from Hazel, and although I felt sorry for Mia, I didn’t feel as much of a connection. Yes, she was found weeping on the floor and on the road when the car accident happened, but something about Moretz did not seem relatable to me. Additionally, the whole story does have a few cliché moments, although those did not take away from the message as a whole.

     The overall message of the book and the movie is heartwarming: “You still have a family, Mia,” said Mia’s best friend who tried to convince her to stay. Even though she has lost her family, Mia still has one to come back to, even if they are not blood related. This is a great sappy romance/love story, so I am a bit biased because I enjoy those types of movies and novels. Online review site IMDB gave the movie adaptation a 6.9/10 and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 40%, but I would give the movie a 3.5 out of five stars. As always, the book is better than the movie, which I would give a 4.5 out of five stars. The story is just better viewed in your own imagination rather than on the big screen.