Better Bound: Death and Dying in “If I Stay?”

Book Cover - If I Stay by Gayle FormanMoving on with the Read Harder Challenge I had a few books on my shelf that had been made into movies fairly recently, what I gravitated towards though was If I Stay by Gayle

One thing you should understand about me as a reader is that people dying and grieving is almost a form of genre kryptonite for me. I grew up reading Lurlene McDaniel books I would purchase in trios and quartets at the used bookstore near my house. They usually involved death, loss, or serious illness and how the people around the character dealt with it. I remember waiting for a kidney transplant with Melinda, saying goodbye to Christina, and discovering that the generous and caring Heather had Hepatitis. To be perfectly honest, I think that woman is responsible with my brief flirtation with medicine (dissecting a frog killed it), and my ability to understand a lot of medical jargon (atrophy was a word I knew at fourteen and hepatitis was a term I understood at twelve).

So, If I Stay seemed like something that would be right in my wheelhouse. On a snow day  Mia and her family get into a car to go visit some friends and their new baby. The snowy streets result in the family getting into a car accident Mia finds herself hanging around the hospital in a ghost-like state needing to make a choice.

Originally when If I Stay came out it really didn’t interest me. I thought that I had read or seen something like this before and in my experience if you are going to trap someone in a confined space like a hospital it needs to be done really well. Mia was a really well written character though and her love of the cello really came through for me.

When it comes to movie adaptations I have one requirement for me to gauge whether or not it’s faithful to the book and that’s: Does it maintain the essence of the book? For If I Stay I went into it thinking: Okay, aside from the flashbacks most the story takes place in a hospital so how hard can it really be to screw that up? 

Well you really can’t and for the most part the movie was very much like the book. I could tell that a couple of pieces were written out but overall the heart of the story remained the same. The only pet peeve I had, was that Liz didn’t look anything like I pictured her character. Yes, it’s a stupid thing to be nitpicking the film about but I am. I actually missed certain aspects of Liz’s character like her mother who comes into the hospital crying and the braid I imagined would slowly give way to River Song hair.

I don’t want to spoil all of the plot in case others haven’t read it but after reading the book you can see quite a few details that were taken out. At the risk of spoiling anyone, let’s move that discussion to the comments.

If I had to make a decision to fulfill task #18 I would say that the book was definitely better. But I do recommend watching the film because Chloe Grace Moritz does a great job as Mia and I can’t imagine better casting.  Overall I gave the book 4 stars and the movie 3.5!

What task can you use “If I Stay” for in your own #ReadHarder challenge?

  • Task #18: Read a book that was adapted into a movie. Then watch the movie, debate which is better.

Comment below and tell me what you thoughts were for this book vs. movie pairing? Is there any part of the book that you wish had been in the movie? 

Published by Lauren Busser

Lauren Busser is a fiction writer and essayist. She is an associate editor at Tell-Tale TV, where she writes about all things tv. She has had fiction appear in five : 2 : one magazine’s #thesideshow and her nonfiction has appeared in Bitch Media and The Hartford Courant. You can find her talking about tv, film, and knitting on Twitter @LaurenBusser.

8 thoughts on “Better Bound: Death and Dying in “If I Stay?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: