I don't normally cry at books. To date, the only books that have made me genuinely cry are: Mutiny on the Bounty, The Book Thief, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.Now If I Stay has been added to the list. And when I say cry, I don’t mean a few tears dripped down my cheeks. No, I mean I sobbed at this book. Legitimately had sobs racking my chest and had trouble catching my breath. This book destroyed me, and I love it for it.There are so many wonderful things about this book, I don’t really know where to start. I love how much music is a theme of this book. Mia, our main character, is SO passionate about music, and I loved reading about her passion.Every time Mia described how much she loved playing the cello, I thought about how much I love words–stringing them into sentences that impart a deeper meaning and reading when others do the same.Mia’s family is at first heartwarming and then heartbreaking. I think it was a really great portrayal of a family that is close to each other and loves each other dearly, while still not being perfect. Sometimes in YA families are absent or just completely dysfunctional, and it’s hard to find a family that seems realistic. Mia’s family does, if a little unlikely.Mia isn’t your strong, fiery protagonist, but she has, I think, a very quiet strength. She’s really a very normal girl except for her musical ability. You get the idea when reading this that you could easily pass Mia on the streets and not notice her at all. She’s timid and uncertain at times, but she’s also incredibly real, which makes the story that much more poignant. Even though this book is emotional, it never felt gimmicky or like the author was trying on purpose to make me cry. The story was handled so carefully that I never felt I was being emotionally manipulated, even though the very premise of the book does promise a certain emotional reaction. Reading about the choice that Mia had to make and how she kept going back and forth because of everything was heartbreaking. It was an incredibly beautiful look at an individual life.The plot in this book is pretty thin; I’d say it’s much more character-driven than plot-driven. It’s slow moving, though captivating, and while I loved this book, I think it’s important to point out because I know that this type of slow, introspective book doesn’t appeal to everyone. Just something to be aware of if you’re thinking about picking up this book.Final Impression: From the beginning to the very end, I was captivated by the heartbreaking story of Mia and her choice. One of the few books to prompt such an emotional reaction in me that I actually cried, I recommend this book to everyone, even people who don’t traditionally like Young Adult. Such a beautiful book, and I’m sure it won’t be my last Gayle Forman novel. 5/5 stars.Review first posted on my blog Book.Blog.Bake.