If I Stay | Study Guide

Gayle Forman

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Course Hero. "If I Stay Study Guide." July 26, 2019. Accessed October 2, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/.


Course Hero, "If I Stay Study Guide," July 26, 2019, accessed October 2, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/.

If I Stay | 7:16 A.M. | Summary



It's morning, and the doctors are checking Mia's eyelids again. The African American nurse Mia liked is back and she seems happy to see Mia. Mia wonders if all nurses know about "this deciding business." Mia is very tired and wonders why she's delaying the inevitable. She realizes she's waiting for Adam to return.

Adam returns, crying. "Stay," he tells her. He says he can't wrap his mind around the idea that she won't get old, have kids, or go to Juilliard. He says if she stays, he'll do whatever she wants, even move to New York.

Mia hears a cello. Adam has placed headphones over her ears. It's Yo-Yo Ma playing a piece by George Gershwin, "Andante con poco e moto rubato." When Mia hears the cello, it brings back all sorts of memories of her family and of her time with Adam. She also has visions of the future, of herself in New York. She hears the cello and it is like the music is being pulled into her body. She feels a jolt of pain and realizes how painful staying will be.

Then Mia feels Adam's hand. At that moment, she summons the strength that her grandparents, Kim, and the nurses have given her. She draws in the breath she knows Teddy and her parents would give her. She squeezes Adam's hand. It takes all the strength she has, but she is awake. Adam gasps and says, "Mia?"


"Andante con poco e moto rubato" (1926) is a piece for piano and cello written by George Gershwin (1898–1937), one of the greatest American composers. Gershwin's most famous pieces include Rhapsody in Blue (1924), An American in Paris (1928), and Porgy and Bess (1935). His music, while classical, has a distinctive jazz flavor. This piece of music, played by Yo-Yo Ma, is quiet and soulful. It starts slow and sneaks up on the listener in a perfect blend of cello and piano. It becomes livelier toward the end, so as Mia hears the cello come to life, so does she.

In agreeing to go with Mia to New York, Adam is making a huge sacrifice. He knows his band won't go with him, so he is saying he will quit his band to be with her, to be part of her family. The reader may wonder whether this feeds into Mia's decision to say.

Choosing to die would be easy for Mia, but choosing to live will be excruciatingly painful, both physically and psychologically. She will need numerous surgeries, and she will never be the same after losing her family. Yet, she knows it's the right thing to do. Yo-Yo Ma's music brings back memories of her family, whom Mia knows would want her to live. It also brings visions of things she has yet to accomplish, such as attend Juilliard and perform at Carnegie Hall. These all factor into her decision to continue living.

Mia also summons the combined strength of her family, both those who are deceased and those still living. This includes her friends and supporters who have become like family. They all give her the strength to squeeze Adam's hand, to come back to life, to stay.

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