If I Stay & Where She Went Duology by Gayle Forman (+Movie Review)|Review

where she went ifistayStats:

Title: If I Stay & Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Books, 2009 & 2011
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary
Page Count: 201 & 264
My Rating: 4 stars

Where to Purchase: Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes and Noble

I listened to both of these books via audiobook.

Synopsis for if i stay (from goodreads):

Just listen, Adam says with a voice that sounds like shrapnel.

I open my eyes wide now.
I sit up as much as I can.
And I listen.

Stay, he says.

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it’s the only one that matters.

my thoughts on if I stay:

I was hesitant to read If I Stay, as I’d heard mixed reviews on it, so instead chose to listen to it on audiobook. I ended up enjoying this book overall.

I enjoyed how this book didn’t focus as much on the romance, and instead focused most of Mia’s memories of her family and friends. Her relationship with Adam was an element, but ultimately, we are shown that her family and music is the most important. I enjoyed her parents especially, as they were developed into fully realized and complex characters, which is not something we see a lot in YA contemporary.

I also found Mia and Adam’s romance realistic. Their relationship felt true of teenage romances, with its problems, but both characters remained mature and level-headed, instead of falling into pits of angst.

I thought this book took a subject and a theme that could be really hard to pull off, and did it beautifully.

my thoughts on where she went:


When I originally started this book, I wasn’t inspecting it to be in a different perspective, and was taken aback. I was not interested in hearing from this alternate perspective, and wanted to get back to Mia’s voice. But, I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

This book handled different themes with the same grace of the first book. I ended up enjoying both books equally, but for different reasons.

This book focused more on their relationship, and I was okay with that. It also commented on the “rock star” life, as well as anxiety, and more individual issues. I enjoyed the way the story was wrapped up, and it didn’t leave me wanting any more.

thoughts on the movie:

If_I_Stay_posterFirst off, I am typically not very harsh on book-to-movie adaptations. Even when I have read the book before watching the film, I tend to view them as two different things. With this adaptation though, I was very disappointed. I felt like the book lent itself well to being adapted, and that it didn’t need to be changed much in order to be successful on screen. Instead, pointless changes were made that changed the overall themes of the story.

One positive was that I thought the casting was very well done. Mia’s parent especially were well cast, and felt like how I imagined them in the book.

Beyond that, I hated the majority of the movie because of the changes made (SPOILERS BELOW):

  • Adam was a much more volatile character in the movie, and he was overall a jerk. Their relationship also seemed more petty and angsty, an element that I don’t feel was present in the books.
  • Mia’s relationship with her friend Kim felt bland and unimportant, while Kim was an important part of Mia’s life in the book.
  • The focus was on the romantic relationship, instead of the focus being on the family relationships, which is what made the book great.
  • Cello was an afterthought. In the book, the cello is what ended up saving her. In the movie, Adam was framed as her reason to live. It was an unrealistic change for a character whose whole life revolves around music.

The changes made the characters more unrealistic and less likeable, in my opinion. They took a story that was different, and made it generic.

My Rating: 2 stars

What are your thoughts on the If I Stay duology? Have you seen the film?

Samantha Signature

9 thoughts on “If I Stay & Where She Went Duology by Gayle Forman (+Movie Review)|Review

    • thoughtsontomes says:

      Yeah I liked how they both had different themes. And that they were set at different times. I hate when companion novels are the same story from a different POV, so I was glad that these were different.


  1. SJ Bouquet says:

    I’ve yet to read either of the books, or watch the movie. I don’t know why, but I was just never interested. After reading your review though, I might pick up the stories 🙂 I love romance, but lately I’ve found that I pull towards representation of strong family ties. My family is a big part of my life. I read a lot of contemporary’s and it always surprises me how absent the parents are, and how little siblings are mentioned (if they even exist). So I might grab If I Stay, just so I can see family in a ya novel.

    Also romance xD I am a damn sucker for romance. And feels. And anything that’ll make me cry.


  2. Courtney says:

    I enjoyed the If I Stay duology. The first one is my favourite. I really liked Mia as a character and I loved how family was a really important part of the book. It was interesting to read from Adam’s perspective in the second book. I didn’t really like the movie at all. I thought that the script was cheesy and as a teenager I would never say any of those lines. Have you read any of Gayle’s other books? Just One Day is perfect.


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