IF I STAY and writing from the heart

With straightforward but poignant prose, Forman made the lives of Mia and Adam feel authentic and brutal and intense… for me, the book was both inspirational and educational.

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My friend Ingrid already shared her thoughts on IF I STAY, both the book and the film adaptation, and my feelings basically echo hers. But I wanted to elaborate on a couple notes that really hit me when I was watching the movie last week.

  • First, this incredibly successful story is simply about love. The protagonist isn’t fighting injustice or saving the world. She’s exceptional with the cello, but otherwise she’s just a normal teenager. Don’t get me wrong, I love Katniss Everdeen, but it’s refreshing to see a different kind of heroine carrying a blockbuster.
  • Second, Mia’s mom and dad are present, well-developed, and positive influences in her life. Again, it’s refreshing. Too many stories keep the parents “out of the way” — through death, abandonment, etc. I’m not saying those things don’t happen, but they’re definitely over-represented in the YA genre.
  • Most importantly, If I Stay was very clearly written from the heart. Just recently, author Gayle Forman revealed more about the inspiration behind the story: the painful loss of her good friends and their children in a car accident. I didn’t know about that back when I read the book, but I didn’t need to, because there was such a strong, genuine spirit bursting from every page.

For me, If I Stay was not only a pretty good film, but also a friendly reminder that “small” or “quiet” stories can be big and loud in their own ways.

(If I have one criticism of the movie — and I suppose the book too — it’s that there is a noticeable lack of diversity.)

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3 Comments

  1. I’ve seen the trailer, and I think Chloe Moretz is terrific, but I’m going to pass on this one. I much prefer to have love stories in a larger context (Katniss is one example, but the one that comes to mind immediately for me is Les Miserables).

    As the phrase goes, the problems of two little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. :-)

    I like the love story to be subtle, so you have to look carefully to even see it. In one story of mine, the love story is — I think — very romantic, but it’s conducted entirely in gestures and body language, never mentioned in words, and the main character isn’t even aware that it’s going on.

    • To each their own. :) I think I enjoy love stories in every form, hahaha.

      But I respectfully disagree with the “hill of beans” expression. Yes, problems are relative, but even the small ones are still valid.

  2. Oddly enough, since I just got through saying that, my current story puts the love story pretty much front and center, at least so far.

    Later on there will be a murder mystery, and maybe extraterrestrials. :-)

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