If I Stay

By Gayle Forman


If I Stay is about a girl named Mia, who has a happy life up until a car crash, which kills the rest of her family. She has to decide whether to stay with her boyfriend Adam, or let go of her life and die. Throughout the book, Mia is able to travel around the hospital and see what is going on, even though in reality, she is still back in her hospital bed and cannot move.


Characterization advances the plot of the story because it shows Mia's relationship with Adam as a reason to stay. For example, "Stay. With that one word, Adam's voice catches, but he swallows the emotion and pushes forward." This gives one reason for Mia to stay, because Adam needs her. Another example, "But there is something to live for...." This shows another reason for Mia to live and keep fighting. Adam is trying to convince Mia to stay, hoping that she will decide to live.

The setting advances the plot of the story because Mia is able to travel around the hospital as her regular self and experience what is going on around her, but she is really unconscious back in her hospital room. For example, "They rush me out of the ER and into the elevator. I have to jog to keep up." This shows how Mia is looking at herself from a distance, not believing what is actually going on in her life. Another example, "I let out a huge exhale, as though I've been holding my breath for the last twenty minutes. After seeing myself in that ditch, I had not been able to look for Teddy." This shows again how Mia is looking at herself from a distance, and how she can experience what's going on around her, even though she's unconscious.

Character Analysis

Mia is a 17 year old girl who lives in Oregon with her mom, dad, and little brother, Teddy. She is the protagonist in the story, and the story is told from her point of view. Mia is a quiet person, and plays the cello. "I was quiet in class. I didn't raise my hand a lot or sass the teachers. And I was busy, much of my time was spent practicing or playing in a string quartet or taking theory classes at the community college." This shows Mia's personality, and how quiet in school she was. "Kids were nice enough to me, but they tended to treat me as if I were a grown-up. Another teacher." This shows how the kids in her school act around Mia, and how she interacts with other people her age. She is shocked and stunned when the car crash first happens, not believing that it is real. She tries to think of it as a dream. "This isn't right. This cannot be happening. We are a family, going on a drive. This isn't real. I must have fallen asleep in the car". This shows that Mia was trying to believe that the car crash wasn't real, and how she decided to handle the situation. An example of how Mia gets along with other people her age is, "People liked me well enough, but they also didn't really know me." This reveals some of Mia's personality and what other people think of her.

Pan or Praise?

I would recommend this book because it is a good reminder that any disaster could happen at any given moment. It shows Mia struggling to fight for her life and remembering everything that had happened in her life, ultimately leading to her final decision of whether to stay or not. The book asks you the question: what would you do if you were in her situation? I think the book is great for this reason, because it makes you think about the decisions you would make, and how you would react. I would definitely recommend If I Stay.