If I Stay Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of If I Stay

I I Stay is the account of Mia, a teenage girl on the verge of becoming an adult, recovering and deciding if she will survive a traumatic event in her life. Mia is on her way to audition at Juilliard, extremely talented as a classical cellist. Her Dad is a retired rock-n-roll band, Mom is a former punk-like musician; needless to say, Mia find herself left out with playing classical and orchestra styled music. While the parents are discussing which radio station to play in the car, Teddy preoccupied, the car hits ice.
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Then the story follows Mia's out of body experience of looking down at the accident. At first, disbelief and denial is the reaction from Mia at realizing that her whole family, herself being the exception, died on impact from the four-ton pickup truck. Mia is under the impression that she is dead and similar to a ghost, hovering over the scene until an EMT places and oxygen mask over her face; she is in a coma but alive.

Unfortunately, Mia's aspiration and motivation for applying to Juilliard, her desire to live included, is brutally ripped from her conscience. She manages to slip into the ambulance and rides to the local hospital to find her grandparents waiting, a soft light in the midst of the darkness that threatens to engulf her ability to live. Mia's long-standing boyfriend and rock-band singer, Adam, arrives in the hospital room.

A majority of the story revolves around Mia and Adam's relationship, her memories of him and the dynamics of their differences in the music genre. It all starts with Mia meeting Adam, untraditionally, through him watching her practice which launches them into meeting regularly and talking about music. Adam suggests a date, the first of many, that ends in a recital, a concert, a handful of dinners, and lastly him going on tour with his band and her auditioning to Juilliard. It is the conversations between Mia and Adam that captured her attention and is the leading reason that she is still letting herself live.

Deciding to remain alive or let herself die is the pivotal challenge that Mia is faced with. Her grandparents both agree, and tell her without knowing that she can see as well as hear them, that both understand if she wants to leave. Adam is the opposite, encouraging Mia to fight for her life and wake-up from her coma. Mia is faced with the reality that if she does fight and walk out of this accident alive, she will be alone with no family; however, if she dies then she will be leaving her grandparents and Adam behind. Her grief and loyalty to the deceased family is undeniably hardcore while her love for Adam and sympathy for her grandparents that have lost everyone within a matter of minutes is equally as strong.

The story ends with Mia unconsciously arguing with herself about the life she wants. It is a stunning result that she finally makes the decision and fights for her life, to keep living regardless of the cost. Mia, for the first time, hears Adam speaking to her and this time it is not from her subconscious but from her literal ear.
Best part of story, including ending: I really liked this book because it dealt with a real-life scenario without being overly explicit.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene happened in the middle of the book where Mia and Adam, her long-standing boyfriend, attend a recital. It is clear that Mia loves it and Adam is anxious because it is not his music preference and finds the people too serious.

Opinion about the main character: I like that Mia is analytically inclined to look for answers and over-thinks memories.

The review of this Book prepared by Matthew Benton a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of If I Stay

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Age 11-14 Religion theme?    -   Yes Religion theme:    -   musings from the afterlife

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Pacific NW Misc setting    -   scientific labs

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Gayle Forman Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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