Book Review – “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman

imagesIf I Stay, by Gayle Forman, is basically one of the most heart wrenching novels I’ve ever read. I got so attached to Mia, the protagonist, and cried anytime she had an even remotely sad thought. I fell in love with Adam, her boyfriend, as her entire relationship played out before me from the beginning.

The book is written a bit weirdly. Mia’s family died in a car crash. Mia was also in the car and was critically injured. The story follows Mia as she makes the decision whether or not she decides to stay on earth and live or whether she wants to die and join her family. The story is set in two different times, Mia reliving her past (whether with Adam or her family) and Mia as she watches herself undergo surgery.

The story is like an emotional roller-coaster. One second I was laughing at a funny memory and the next I am crying after Mia receives heartbreaking news. I cried for a good fifty percent of the book (but that might have something to do with the fact that I am apparently a big sook who cries at everything). The novel is so well written it’s really hard to remember that I am not Mia.

I think that If I Stay is appropriate for people over the age of twelve purely because of the overwhelming tear factor I felt throughout the whole book. I also think it is directed more towards girls mainly because I can’t see either my brother or my dad enjoying it. I think this is a “chick flick” book like The Notebook or My Sisters Keeper.


If I stay by Gayle Forman is book based around how one decision can have a major impact on your life. The main character Mia, a senior school student, is involved in a car accident where her life has been affected in irreparable  ways. It is ultimately up to Mia to decide whether she dies or whether she lives.

Mia’s inner soul is watching over her body in the hospital, analysing the life she had and the life she will have if she lives. Her interactions with her boyfriend Adam, her family members and her best friend Kim, aid in her making the ultimate decision, one I hope never to make.

Yes it was an emotional book but I found I couldn’t relate to the characters in the first half of the book and only began to understand them in the later half. It was an easy read, even though it contained serious themes. Would recommend it but be ready for a slow start.

cheers natalie


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Book Review – “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is one of those novels that takes a bit to get into, but once you’re hooked there is no setting it down. I found the first half of the book slow and quite difficult for me to read. I think this is because the first half of the book is basically a big lead up to the second half. Once you hit the half way mark, you hit the really interesting part that makes you seriously think about everything that is happening in the book.

This is the first mystery book that I have ever read and frankly, I loved it. I loved the constant thinking you had to do to figure out what happened to Amy. I loved analysing the characters and the reasons and motives behind every single thing they do. The second half of the book had me on the edge of my seat and constantly made me second guess the theories I was positive were correct.

The characters were the type of characters who developed as you read. For the first few chapters you really didn’t know much about Amy and Nick which was one of the first things that really bored me in the beginning. It gradually built up the storyline until finally, around that amazing half way point I keep mentioning, you get a major plot twist that basically refused to let you stop reading.

Once I had finished Gone Girl, I was in shock at the ending. As per the rest of the book, every theory I had about the ending was wrong. I’m not sure whether this says more about the authors writing skills or about my obviously terrible sense of judgement. I really enjoyed the book though, despite its slow beginning. Hopefully, mum and I will be able to read her other books and review them at a later date.
Ash xxx

I love doing book reviews as reading is such a passion for both Ashlea and myself. It also brings us closer together as it gives us a common interest and another line of communication. Now that’s off my chest, let’s discuss the book.

I read this book while away on a family holiday to Bali and can recommend it as a perfect, light holiday read.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is her third novel and, for me, the best so far. The book is set in Missouri and is based around an imperfect marriage facade. Nick and Amy have been married for 5 years and from an outsiders point of view, seem to have a perfect marriage. When Amy unexpectedly disappears, all evidence points to Nick.

When the police find Amy’s diary, Nick realises just how poor their marriage was. If Nick didn’t kill his wife Amy, then who was responsible? Nick and his twin sister set out to find what really happened to Amy.

Gillian is a wonderful mystery writer and keeps the suspense through out the novel. ‘Gone Girl’ has many twists and turns to keep you deeply enthralled in the storyline.
Cheers Natalie

Related reviews of Gone Girl

Book Review – ‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green

Looking For Alaska is a young adult novel by the highly acclaimed, John Green. This book follows a teenage boy dubbed “Pudge” (which is ironic because he is actually quite skinny) who moves to a new boarding school. There he meets Alaska Young, a vivacious and bustling girl who instantly captures his attention. Looking For Alaska tackles the issues of young love, self hatred and family. The novel is an extremely real book that makes me feel such raw and real emotions.

When I read this book (although it didn’t take me too long because I refused to put it down) I absolutely loved every single minute of it. I laughed, I cried and I spent the whole time thinking about how much of a genius John Green is. I have no idea how he knows exactly what a teenager wants to read when majority of us have no idea ourselves. Looking For Alaska is one of those books that make you feel as if you are living out the story with the characters.

I think that Looking For Alaska is John’s main book that brings up some issues that are really affecting teenagers today. Alaska suffers through depression and works through the issues of her mother’s death and stress of drinking and smoking. It shows the harder side to growing up that not many kids have to go through. I personally felt like my life paled ( in how hard it is) compared to Alaska that seriously brought me to question myself every time I complain about the little things.

The twist in the plot that I didn’t  see coming, brought me to literal tears and still makes me feel extremely upset every time I think about it. Looking For Alaska is appropriate for people thirteen or older. The reason for this is it isn’t quite appropriate for younger kids because it has a lot of smoking, drugs, alcohol and other inappropriate things. I would most definitely suggest that everyone read Looking For Alaska.

Ash xxx


Looking for Alaska by John Green is his first novel and a wonderful, if not controversial, piece of young adult literature. The story is set in a boarding school in Alabama and is based around a first year student, Miles Halter (better known as Pudge). Pudge’s room mate Colonel, a short but well-built strategic prankster, form an instant friendship and Colonel introduces Pudge to the ‘real’ life of boarding school. Alaska, a moody, enigmatic teenager forms an integral part of their lives, with Pudge becoming obsessed and eventually falling in love with her. The friendship group are serial pranksters, continually trying to out do each other, while competing against the ‘rich’ kids at school, always trying to prove their worth.

When one of the friendship group falls victim to a tragic accident late one evening after heavily drinking, the group are left to find out what actually happened. The story reveals that the private lives of those closest to you may not be as they seem.  Childhood tragedies affect people in ways those untouched could never understand and often never see the victims cries for help.

A beautifully written novel, with enough twists and turns to keep the reader deeply involved. The ideal audience is ‘young adult’, however, the content includes drinking, smoking and sexual material, which should be monitored by parents. I found the book a little predictable for my age group but an easy, light read.

Check out another John Green novel Ashlea and I have reviewed ‘The Fault in our Stars’.

cheers natalie


Book Review – ‘Touching the Rock’ by John Hull

‘Touching the Rock’ by John Hull

John Hull was born in 1935 in Victoria, Australia, with full vision. In 1980, after many years of experiencing issues with his sight, he became legally blind (Hull). John wrote a book about his experiences with coping from being a sighted individual to learning how to deal with the blankness. This book is ‘Touching the Rock’, an experience of blindness.

I will review three extracts taken from the book – ‘Faces’, ‘Rain’ and ‘Between you and me, a smile’.

 FACES – “There are those with faces, and those without faces . Hull describes how he can still picture people he knew before he lost his sight, however the people he has met since, are without a face. He compares his lack of vision to an art gallery. There are canvasses on the wall, some of which are familiar to him, some which are blank. The blank canvasses are new faces, ones he has never seen and struggles to visualise. The contrast between a gallery and his sight is beautifully written and effective.

As I study this section, I close my eyes, becoming part of his darkness, to form a connection with the gallery. Some canvasses on the wall have a clear image with intricate details forcefully pushing through the darkness. Then I come across a blank canvass, nothing catching my attention. The harder I try to form a picture, anything at all, the further the canvass falls into nothingness. But I can open my eyes and pursue the image, Hull cannot.

Hull describes the images he has of his three children, three years after becoming blind. His eldest child is now ten years old but his memory is of photo’s taken of her up until she was seven. His youngest child he has never actually seen, so she is a blank portrait, like many others in his life.

The sadness of ‘Faces’ flows through out, making me feel sympathetic for his major loss. He almost appears to be bitter, angry at his loss, which is understandable. He is expressing his mourning for his sight through the loss of never being able to see his children grow up, a realisation he may not have fully understood until now.

 RAIN – “…it has granted a gift to me, the gift of the world”. Hull describes a simple experience of opening his front door and it is raining. This was written only a few months after ‘Faces’ but the difference in the emotion of the two is extreme.

He has been able to capture every intricate detail of what rain feels like, smells like, sounds like and even looks like through the eyes of the eyeless. He is joyous in his words and believes he is at one with the world when it is raining. An amazingly uplifting section, I smiled through out, wishing as I read that the rain would fall outside.

I have never looked at rain in the way Hull does. Yes I have vision but it made me realise just how beautiful the world is with simple, common experiences. Hull was able to see the world as a sighted person sees the world when it rains, as every sense in his body became sensitised to his surroundings.

There was no loss in this section, no deep sadness, only recognition of his reality. It was as though this part of his life, which he had taken for granted, now was the part that made him happy with losing his vision. ‘Rain’ is the journal log that is most commonly used for promotion of his book; (Hull, RAIN 9th September 1983), maybe it is when the light finally began to shine through.

BETWEEN YOU AND ME, A SMILE – “…the breakdown which blindness causes in the language of smiles . This is written six years after losing his vision and he is with his youngest child helping her get dressed. They exchange smiles but his daughter is confused how he knows that she is smiling.

Such a touching moment that I shed a little tear. A tear for his loss of never seeing his child smile. A tear for his joy at knowing his child was smiling with him. A tear for his knowledge that he had accepted his lot in life and his children were flourishing.

I knew when I read this that I needed to read the complete book. He is not trying to hide what it is like to be blind. He is not focusing on all the negatives about being blind. His words gave me the opportunity to see how he sees life and it is not as dark as I originally believed.

In an interview with Hull by Mary D’Apice from VisionAware, Hull talks about the first few years he did not register that he was actually blind. He talks about his acceptance of blindness, understanding fully in order for it to not destroy his life.

It was through his many vivid dreams that he learnt how to begin to deal with his loss and move on with life. Hull also points out what many people think maybe helpful for those who are blind or assumed about those with no sight, something I must admit I thought too. Not judging a book by its cover (sorry about the pun) is a lesson I learnt from reading his private journal.

Reading his book, I felt like I went through the journey with him. He went through the acceptance and then the understanding and now leads a full and active life. A beautifully written journal, something to read when you need time to slow down and gain a deeper appreciation of life. Highly recommended to all age groups.

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