If I Stay | Study Guide

Gayle Forman

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Course Hero. "If I Stay Study Guide." Course Hero. 26 July 2019. Web. 2 Oct. 2022. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, July 26). If I Stay Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/

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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/.

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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/.

If I Stay | 8:12 P.M. | Summary

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Summary

Mia wants to follow Kim and Adam, but she can't. She realizes she doesn't have superhuman powers. She's only invisible. She looks for her friends in the waiting room with her family, but when she gets there, they're all gone. They're in the cafeteria.

Mia thinks they're talking about Teddy. It turns out that they're discussing the other driver, Mr. Dunlap. He only had some cuts and bruises and was released from the hospital. He wasn't drunk. The Halls' car swerved into his lane, and he didn't have time to stop. No one knows exactly why the car swerved.

Mia thinks Mr. Dunlap probably isn't fine. After an accident like that, his whole life would be different. She almost wishes she could go and visit him and tell him she doesn't blame him. However, that would also be awkward. Mia thinks she needs Adam.

Mia finds Kim and Adam upstairs, near the ICU. They are plotting to get in. Kim says they could probably just ask Mia's grandparents, but Adam doesn't want to add to their burden. He plans to dress up as a janitor or orderly, the way people do in movies. Kim says that the nurse will recognize him.

Kim helps Adam look in a broom closet, but they don't find any disguises. Kim suggests faking a drug overdose. Adam says they need to create a distraction, such as setting off the fire sprinklers. Kim doesn't think that's such a good idea, but Adam says he just needs to get in the room for a second, "so I can show her that I'm here. That someone's still here." They sit a moment, and Mia realizes they're friends now.

A moment later, Adam comes up with an idea. He says he'll show Kim what it is.

Mia remembers thinking—when she first started playing the cello—that it was a solitary activity, unlike being in a rock band like her father's. In eighth grade, she thought about quitting. She'd gradually taper off practice, and by the time she entered high school, she'd no longer be known as the cellist. However, when she told Kim she didn't have to practice and could go shopping with her, Kim was shocked. She encouraged Mia to continue, giving her a CD with a cellist who played with the group Nirvana.

Mia was amazed and wanted to play the song for Kim. However, before she could, Kim suggested to Mia's parents that they send her to music camp.

Mia ended up going to a music camp in Vancouver. She didn't know anyone and missed her family, especially Teddy. Then a kid named Peter Hellman spoke to her. He was 13 and told her there were only two other cello players there. One was Simon, a cello player from Leicester, England. They talked about the summer's end concert and the camp's concerto competition. Simon had heard that Mia was a serious player. Simon seemed pleased to have some competition, as the third cellist wasn't very serious.

Mia was surprised that Simon was competitive. She'd never played in a group before and hadn't heard of the Portland Cello Project, an avant-garde cello collective in Oregon. Simon was surprised she was any good if she hadn't played with others.

The students practiced by themselves in the morning and, in the afternoon, they played as a group. It was tough. They played some Brahms lullabies but couldn't keep time. After about a week of practice, things got better. Playing with other people was different and made Mia worry about blending. She sat beside a gifted viola player named Elizabeth and felt like she owed it to the group to play at their level.

Mia practiced every night with Simon, working on a Haydn concerto. She got to know Simon, and the friendly competition made her better. However, she didn't get the solo that year. Elizabeth did. Four years later, Mia got it.

Analysis

The author reiterates the rules of the supernatural here. She says that Mia can't do anything superhuman, such as walk through walls. This is why, for example, Mia doesn't go to check on her brother. He's in another hospital, so she'd need to find someone who was driving there.

It seems like all of Mia's family is at the hospital with her and no one is at the other hospital with Teddy. The reader might be starting to suspect that Teddy hasn't made it. However, Mia is still optimistic.

It shows a great deal of empathy that Mia is so concerned about the other driver, Mr. Dunlap. A lot of people would be angry at the person who was driving the truck that killed their family. That Mia thinks about talking to Mr. Dunlap also show she's thinking about living.

Music is back as one of the book's major theme. When Mia goes away to camp, she misses her family terribly. However, she ends up finding new relationships through music, almost like finding a new family. She talks about learning to play with other people and befriends people with whom she is competing. If Mia keeps up her music, she will always have a family, wherever she goes.

In particular, Mia talks about how satisfying it is to play in a group. Music and harmony in the orchestra are metaphors for harmony in life. By playing in the orchestra, Mia can achieve balance, work toward a goal, and be part of something. This will have to sustain her in the future since it will be all she has.

Kim shows herself, once again, to be a true friend. When Mia is thinking about giving up the cello, Kim realizes that cello is very meaningful to Mia and quitting would be a great loss. Kim's research on music camps demonstrates both how well she knows Mia and the depth of their friendship.

In the present, Kim and Adam are working together to help Mia. Adam realizes that Mia needs to know he's there. This shows the importance of family: people who are always there.

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