If I Stay

By: Gayle Forman

Character Analysis

Mia is a senior in high school and a talented musician who has a boyfriend named Adam. In a way, she has a perfect life with everything she could possibly want, but in a second, her life changes forever. Her family is killed in a car accident and she is in the hospital in a coma. She has an out of body experience where she has flashbacks and is able to see and hear all the things that are happening around her. She then has to decide whether or not to stay in this world and be with Adam or die and be with the rest of her family. Throughout the story, Mia undergoes many changes in personality. One very big change is her feelings toward Adam. In the beginning of the story, she was hopelessly in love with Adam, but as the story kept going, she kept having flashbacks about their relationship going through tough times. Mia is very quiet and doesn't like to go out of her comfort zone. When she goes to hear Adam play, she stands backstage and just listens rather than dancing or getting into the music. She tries to avoid problems, such as when she applies for Julliard but doesn't tell Adam until afterward because she's afraid he will be upset. In the end, Mia realizes everyone has lost something, not just her. She knows it will be painful to stay, and she knows that she will miss her family and all that she has lost. But she also knows she won't be alone and as she focuses her energy on holding Adam's hand she makes her decision to stay.

Characterization of Mia

Mia is the book's most dynamic character and she undergoes the most change. She goes from being someone who is laid back to someone who has to make the tough decisions about the fate of her life. For example, in the beginning of the story she describes how much she loves Adam and the direction their relationship is going. Adam tells Mia how he will always feel about her, "Mia, Mia, Mia, stroking the tendrils of my hair that had escaped from the wig. This is you that I like. But the you who you are tonight is the same you I was in love with yesterday, the same you I'll be in love with tomorrow. Hell, you're one of the punkest girls I know, no matter who you listen to or what you wear" (55). Toward the end of the story, she realizes that their relationship has changed and that it will change even more if she stays. Also, Mia feels like the "odd one out" in her family because she like different kinds of music and she didn't really look like her parents. But then she realizes that none of those things were really important because her family has always supported her and gave her the confidence to go on.

The Theme

The theme of If I Stay is that when you put love to the test, it can help you overcome any obstacle. Mia's best friend Kim reminds Mia that although she lost her parents and brother, she still has family and people who love her, so she still has reasons to live. When Mia talks about Adam, she remembers when they hit a rocky point, and said, "Adam and I never have been the kind of couple to talk about the future, about where our relationship was going, but with things suddenly so unclear, we avoided talking about anything that was happening more than a few weeks away, and this made our conversations as stilted and awkward as they'd been in those early weeks together before we'd found our groove." They were able to overcome that before the accident. Another example is when Adam visits Mia in the hospital, and brings her favorite classical music. Adam talks to Mia all through the time she is in a coma, telling her how much he loves her, which shows that Adam wants to be with Mia even though they have fought in the past and that he is putting it all aside for her.

Review of If I Stay

If I Stay is an excellent story. I liked the love story between Mia and Adam, and how the other characters are portrayed. The description of things like the car accident and what Mia goes through in the hospital are vivid and really help the reader understand what's happening and how the characters feel. My favorite part of If I Stay was Adam's willingness to sacrifice anything for Mia if she stays and wakes from the coma. I really liked how the flashbacks were used to associate what was happening in the hospital to the past. I also enjoyed the ending because Mia chose to stay with Adam rather than join her family, even though it was a really tough decision to make. I was very shocked and sad when I found out that Teddy didn't survive especially after the doctor said he was going to be all right. I praise If I Stay and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys romantic love stories and teen novels.