If I Stay | Study Guide

Gayle Forman

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If I Stay | 2:48 A.M. | Summary



Mia is back from surgery, and Willow takes over as Mia's nurse. Willow chases the other nurse away and brings in Gran and Gramps. Gramps looks tired and sick, but Gran looks just the same.

Gran speaks to Mia first. Gran tells Mia that she was an easy child but had told her mother to expect difficulty at puberty. However, Mia was a pretty easy teenager too. Now, however, Mia is making up for all of it by making Gran so nervous today. Gran says she went on a walk and saw a crossbill. She thinks it was Great-aunt Glo, who always liked Mia and her father. Mia's father didn't like Great-aunt Glo, though. He thought she smelled like mothballs. Great-aunt Glo loved that Denny was a rebel, and she loved that Mia rebelled against her own family by being a classical musician.

As Mia listens to Gran's soothing voice, she thinks about taking a nap. A nap would be good. She wonders if death would feel like a nice, warm, never-ending nap. Then she wonders if everyone gets to decide when they die. She doubts it. Her parents wouldn't have decided to die. She's not sure about Teddy. She hopes Gran is right about the angels. Maybe she didn't see them because they were all comforting Teddy. She wonders, "Why can't someone else decide this for me?"

Gran leaves, and then Gramps comes in. He's crying. He tells Mia it's okay if she wants to go. He'll understand and knows she's been through a lot.

Mia recalls that when her parents had Teddy, Denny changed his style and stopped being in a band. His friend, Henry, was surprised, but eventually understood when he and his wife had a baby. Gramps also seemed upset about the change, and Mia asked him why. He said it was because Denny was a great songwriter.

Mia listened to one of Denny's songs, called "Waiting for Vengeance." The lyrics talk about choice, including the line, "I'm not choosing but I'm running out of fight." Mia liked it and asked her father if he regrets not pursuing music. He said he didn't because that part of his life was over. He tells her, "Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you."


Choices abound in this chapter. Mia is coming close to the moment when she must make a difficult decision: Should she stay or go?

Denny made a choice to stop being a musician and become a teacher. He said he didn't regret giving up music because he had already played that part of his life out. Mia, on the other hand, hasn't had an opportunity to live that part of her life yet. Therefore, this memory may help her realize that she wants to live.

"Sometimes," Denny said, "you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you." If Mia chooses not to live, her life will be an unfulfilled promise. She'll never be a great cellist, and she'll never be anyone's wife, mother, or grandmother.

Denny's lyrics, "I'm not choosing but I'm running out of fight" seem to be speaking to Mia. She doesn't know whether she should fight or not.

Mia seems to be deciding to live. At least, she is terrified at the idea that choosing a nap might lead to her death. Meanwhile, Gramps gives her permission to choose death. This may free her to die, or it may make her feel like she has the freedom to live for herself and not anyone else. This gives her peace of mind to die, but Gramps tells her they still wish she'd live.

The idea of birds as guardian angels returns in this chapter. Mia had said she didn't believe in them. Now, she hopes they're around, perhaps so her family can see her in the future.

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