It’s been a while since I’ve been able to dedicate some time to blogging. I have been doing a lot of reading recently, but most of my free time has been dedicated to family. Just this past weekend I was back in Ohio visiting my parents and brother, catching up with my sister and her boyfriend, meeting my newest cousin – only 3 weeks old now – and attending my other cousin’s wedding. We even managed to catch up with my boyfriend’s aunt for a lunch and meet a few of my old college girlfriends for breakfast while we were there.
“Coming home” to my friends and family in Ohio is always a nostalgic journey. From traveling to a favorite coffee joint from my high school days to sleeping in the bedroom I still remember as being Strawberry Shortcake pink with red carpet (now a mellow shade of green with wooden floors) to catching a college football game and walking past the concession stands where I stole a kiss from my first boyfriend. Things are always changing there, but in the shadows I still see the place I grew up in.
SPOILER ALERT – I will be talking about many areas both in the book and the movie, so please do not go any further if you are still in the process of reading/watching this story.
The Story (taken from the book)
For Mia, in If I Stay by Galye Foreman, she’s being given the rare opportunity to reflect on her life thus far. Mia is a 17 year old high school student who plays the cello and is obsessed with classical music. Not too surprising until you find out that her dad was an old punk band drummer and her mom one of their groupies. They have no penchant for classical music or anything else that seems to fascinate Mia. In fact, Mia is sort of an outcast in her family.
On an unexpected Snow Day from school, Mia’s family takes advantage of the opportunity to jump in the car and head to their long-time friends’ house to hang out. Along the way, the family is in a car accident and Mia’s parents are killed instantly. Both in critical condition, Mia and her brother, Teddy, are whisked away to two different hospitals where they begin to fight for their life.
Immediately following the accident, Mia begins to have an out-of-body experience where she is separated from her body and is conscious to hear and see everything that is going on around her. She sees her family come to the hospital and make decisions on her behalf while she remains in a coma. She sees her best friend, Kim, annoyed by her mother who seems more disturbed by Mia’s accident than Kim is. She even sees her boyfriend Adam, someone she’s been growing apart from over the past few months, crying by her bedside and begging her to make the choice to live.
As each of the events unfolds, Mia reflects on the past years she’s had with her family. From wearing big headphones at her dad’s punk rock concerts to getting her first cello after playing her first public concert. She remembers when she first started dating Adam, an up-and-coming rock star in his own right, to the last fight they had before he headed off to Seattle for another short tour. She remembers the moment Teddy was born, the moment her dad gave up the band to become a more responsible parent and the way her mom was always pushing her to step outside her comfort zone.
Eventually, Mia’s projected body grows weary and she knows it’s time to make a decision. Return to her body and fight, or let herself slip away to join the rest of her family members.
Movie Vs. Book
As to be expected, there are some differences between the book and the movie. We’ll look at those differences and then determine which version is the better story.
In the book the cello was a gift given her by her parents after she does her first public performance. It’s a very sweet gesture since Mia remembers her family as needing to pinch pennies to make ends meet.
In the movie Mia’s father sells off his beloved drum kit from his punk rock days in order to pay for the cello. Then he delivers it at home to a very grateful little Mia.
I almost wish both of these were part of the original story. The father sells of his drum kit to surprise his daughter with her own cello at her first concert.
How much Teddy is too much?
In the book, Teddy is a steady figure that continues to be brought up in multiple stories while Mia looks back on her life. I actually really loved that Mia was the first thing Teddy saw when he was born, giving the children an almost cosmic bond with one another.
In the movie, most of the stories revolved around her growing relationship with Adam. This was obviously the angle the producers wanted to pursue most. There was very little about Teddy, played by Jakob Davies, in the storyline.
While I was glad that producers chose not to try and reenact Teddy’s birth on the big screen, I sort of think it would have been cool to see Mia up at night cooing the little baby to sleep after her parents had failed.
In the book, Mia learns of Teddy’s death because she sees Willow, a nurse from the hospital Teddy is located and a long-time friend of her mother’s at her bedside. Mia determines that Willow would have never left Teddy alone, so there must be no reason to stay away now.
In the movie, Mia, played by Chloe Grace Moretz, hears some whispering between her grandparents and walks down to the pediatric ICU where her brother is being kept to see that his bed is now empty.
Both scenarios leave you with a pit in your stomach. I cried both in the book and in the movie.
Kim at the hospital
In the book Kim is a somewhat humorous character, yelling at her mother for her incredulous tears, conspiring with a rockstar to get Adam in to see Mia and talking out loud to Mia as if she’s sitting right next to her. She’s also not a good friend of Adam’s and so it’s a really big deal when they begin conversing in the hospital.
In the movie we get a much more subdued version of Kim. She still drinks her frilly coffee drinks and drills Mia for details about Adam, but she’s less involved in this version of the story. One thing I did like though was that Mia’s projected self reaches out and touches Kim’s arm and Kim reacts. That was pretty impactful.
I sort of like the clown-version of Kim. I wish they would have gone more that route with Liana Liberato’s character.
Sneaking Adam in to see Mia
In the book Adam sets up this elaborate plan with his rock star fans in order to create a distraction and let Adam have a window to sneak into the ICU to see Mia.
In the movie this distraction is a less dramatic Kim telling the guard that a woman is having a baby in the women’s restroom to allow Adam, played by Jamie Blackley, a chance to try and sneak in.
Of course, I like the overdramatic rock star distraction much better, even though it was just as effective as the other version was.
Out of Body Mia
Mia’s out of body experience in the book is pretty similar to the movie. The only difference is that the longer Mia remains out of her body, the wearier she becomes. When Adam is finally allowed to visit Mia, she doesn’t have the strength to leave the room or else she would.
In the movie Mia’s out of body experience has one other difference. She begins to see the white light and start walking towards it before she turns back to her body after hearing a cello solo over the loud speaker.
So which version did I like best? The book version of course. This is the original version and therefore the best version of this story. Not that I minded the liberties that were taken in the movie. Some of them actually made certain scenes translate better like when Mia confronts Adam when she’s dressed up for Halloween.
4 stars for sure for either version and I recommend this to Young Adults and Teenagers alike.
Is there a movie version of a book that you like better than the book itself?
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