Gayle Forman's young adult novel, If I Stay, is tremendous. It's the story of a lovely family in Oregon: punk rockers turned cool parents and their two children Mia, a gifted cellist and high school senior and Teddy. The bulk of the story is told by Mia through flashbacks after the family is in a car accident. She tries to figure out if she's alive, and if so, should she stay when her family is gone.
What could easily become schlocky or depressing is ultimately uplifting in the deft hands of Forman. The characters are a family I want to have over for dinner. The book is a mere two hundred pages, but Forman manages to have not just one, but a multitude of well-formed, likeable characters.
Yes, it's a young adult novel, but I would recommend it to adult readers as well. It's a timeless tale, and it's the second-best book I've read this year (the best is The Lost Witness by Robert Ellis, but read his City of Fire first).
Rating: 5 stars out of 5