Immediately after the movie adaptation of “If I Stay” came out, my best friend introduced me to the book itself. She knows I am not much of a fan of love stories but she was confident I would like it… and before I knew it, I already finished the whole book including its sequel, “Where She Went”. It was a typical love story with the drama of one leaving the other who is also waiting for long time for them to be reunited at the end. Adam Wilde and Mia Hall exemplified an unrequited love. Yet what I really love from the story is the teenage kilig interposed with quotable passages and real life lessons.
Both Adam and Mia are musically-inclined although at completely different genre. Adam plays the guitar of a local rock band in Oregon while Mia is a classical cello player. It’s their passion for music that brought them together at their school’s music room until they fell in love for each other. They were a picture of a happy teenage couple. Mia’s parents had been supportive of their love affair that Adam joined most of the family gatherings.
Nonetheless, their love affair was challenged when Mia and her family met an accident on their way to a friend’s house. Her parents died on the spot while her younger brother passed away few hours after. Mia, orphan and unconscious, was brought to Portland for medical treatment. While comatose, her soul was just around seeing her world slowly disintegrating until Adam asked her to stay even if that means living away from him. Eventually, Mia woke up and slowly learned of her sad fate.
Adam did not leave her side still even during her post-therapy sessions.
The first few months after the accident went well until it was time for Mia to leave for Juilliard for college, a plan she had prior to her family’s sad fate. They both promised constant communication with each other until she stopped responding to his phone calls.
Adam waited and wasted his life.
Though he still loved her, he tried to move on and began writing angry and accusing songs bound to become famous throughout the world. He reunited with his former band mates and went on several domestic and international concerts. Yet he was a completely different Adam this time. He became loner, pessimistic and introvert.
One night, he slipped into Mia’s solo concert in New York only to find himself rekindling his love for her. There was the longing to hold her and feel her skin but the need to confront her with several questions weighed more than anything else. Inside him, he demanded reasons why she just dropped him all along. However, all he can do that time was admire her skills and beauty—the same characteristics he loved, loves and will love.
The concert ended and he was preparing for a silent exit when Mia summoned her at the backstage. Wondering how she noticed his presence, he met her in a room with disbelief. Both of them were testing waters until there was not much of a conversation. He left the room without answers to his questions. Yet Mia pulled along while he was walking down the dark streets of the city.
The two went on a city tour by foot the entire nighttime and proceeded to the Statue of Liberty before sunrise. Adam made several attempts to ask her questions but he always fell short with words.
Just before they parted, in a reproachful tone, Adam finally asked why she left him hanging. She broke in tears narrating her depressing journey of wanting to forget the past. Then she whispered”…I hate you because you made me stay.”
The inevitable came and they’re already parting ways when they felt the gravity pulling them together. He stayed in her apartment with a heavy heart because it was arranged exactly the same with her parents’ house in Oregon except for their photos together which used to hang in there.
He was already deciding to let her go when Mia showed him something upstairs. It was a room housing their keepsakes including her cello and his old guitar. He almost broke down in tears seeing the guitar he auctioned previously, which she bought purposely. The same love and music that reunited them in Oregon worked its way as they played their instruments from the heart.
Adam went with Mia to Japan for her concert then the couple went to London for his concert, too. There he sang what used to be a song of lamentation and accusation in front of Mia, but with completely new melody and emotion that time. He dropped his career and focused on Mia, on making her the luckiest woman in the world.
It may be a typical love story but Gayle Forman played it well. One of the compelling themes she used was making the right decisions when confronted by several options in every situation. Mia, being orphaned at an early age, could have left but she held on and continued life. She could have lived with Adam and her grandparents but she chose Juilliard for her future. She could have kept him but he set him free with a high hope of giving him a good life. That’s what we experience too in real life scenarios. Several roads are laid in front of us but we choose what we think is rightful and best.
Another premise that the story gave emphasis on is the different kinds of love. It’s not only our lover’s love that makes the world go round; there is also our parents’ love, friends’ love and so many other types of love, which we may have overlooked.
Quotes for Thoughts
“Rumors, even true ones, are like ﬂames: Stiﬂe the oxygen and they sputter and die.” – Adam, Where She Went
“I don’t know. But I do know that if you want to stay and be with him, I’d support that, though maybe I’m only saying that because I don’t think you’d be able to turn down Juilliard. But I’d understand if you chose love, Adam love, over music love. Either way you win. And either way you lose. What can I tell you? Love’s a bitch.” – Mia’s mom, If I Stay
“Life might take you down different roads. But each of you gets to decide which one to take.” – Mia’s mom, If I Stay
“All relationships are tough. Just like with music, sometimes you have harmony and other times you have cacophony. I don’t have to tell you that.” – Mia’s mom, If I Stay
“People believe what they want to believe!” – Kim, If I Stay
“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” – Mia’s dad, If I Stay