Since my last post ended up being a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would, I decided to dedicate a post to each of the inspirations I wanted to talk about. Here we have the second installment of Writing Our Song: Behind the Scenes and, as with yesterday’s post, consider the following to probably be laden with *******SPOILERS*******.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
This is a much more ‘normal’ kind of inspiration, I think. A book! I was hooked as soon as I read the blurb. Funnily enough, this book is actually being made into a movie due to be released in August that also stars Chloe Grace Moretz. I hope she nails this role as well as she did Carrie.
This book tells the story of 17 year old Mia Hall, a talented cellist. The entire story takes place over the course of 1 day plus flashbacks, but Gayle Forman packs a hell of a lot into that single day. While driving one snowy morning, the Hall family (Mia’s Mother, Father and Brother) are in a catastrophic car accident and Mia has an out of body experience. While surveying the site of the accident and afterwards, following her body’s journey to the hospital and through surgeries, she learns that her family did not survive.
She had a truly bright future ahead of her, a future full of choices, but now all that has been taken away. Through Mia’s out of body observations of her remaining family (i.e. grandparents) and friends, combined with flashbacks of key moments in her life, we learn what she has lost and what she has left. Mia now only has a single choice left: To stay or go. To live or die.
This was a heart-wrenching story full of confusion, pain, loss and terror… but also joy, hope, laughter and love. I drew from a lot of the emotions of this book, the words were absolutely flying into the keyboard for a solid week after I finished it. What I thought I’d talk about here, though, was the love.
One of the things we learn from Mia’s narration and the flashbacks is a truly touching story of first love. We see how Mia, the classical musician, the geek, ends up with Adam, a boy a year ahead of her in school. He plays the guitar and he’s a rockstar in the making.
All her life, Mia has felt a bit out of place in her family. She’s dark-haired and into classical music, the cello picked her, she didn’t pick it. But the rest of them, they’re all light haired and rock’n’roll through and through. She’s always been worried that her parents were disappointed in her life choices, not being a “rock chick”, being generally different personality-wise.
Then Adam comes into her life and fits right into that rock’n’roll family like he was meant to be there. He’s Mia’s first love and he brings with him all of the confusion and passion that relationship entails. They have their hiccups, like with Adam either being too-friendly or not-friendly-enough with her friends, and with Mia wanting to keep him all to herself when she doesn’t want him to invite the rest of them to his gig. Eventually, just by being who he is and loving her, Adam helps Mia feel, for the first time, like she really belongs in her own family.
The bonfire scene, oh my god, the bonfire scene. Whether a book is a masterpiece or a piece of crap it is possible for a scene, or even something as small as a single line, to be an absolute work of art. “If I Stay” is much closer to the masterpiece end of the scale and the bonfire scene is just perfect, a scene that fills up your heart and breaks it at the same time.
If you ask a million people what ‘love’ is, you’ll get a million different answers and none of them are necessarily wrong. In “If I Stay”, Adam does something for Mia that she couldn’t do for herself, and which nobody else could do either. That’s one answer to what ‘love’ is that I wanted to use in “Writing Our Song”. Jeremy does things for Bea that she didn’t even think she needed.
Beatrice, in her own way, does the same for Jeremy. When they are with each other, they are home and they can really be themselves. It’s a selfless freedom they offer, and I truly hope I captured this complex emotion well.