If I Stay | Study Guide

Gayle Forman

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Course Hero. "If I Stay Study Guide." Course Hero. 26 July 2019. Web. 13 Aug. 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 August 13, 2022, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/

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(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "If I Stay Study Guide." July 26, 2019. Accessed August 13, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/.


Course Hero, "If I Stay Study Guide," July 26, 2019, accessed August 13, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/.

If I Stay | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram



It's a snow day, which in Oregon means there's a tiny bit of snow on the ground—too much for the single snow plow. The Hall children, 17-year-old Mia and eight-year-old Teddy, are excited about missing school, as is their father, Denny Hall, a teacher. Kat Hall, their mother, calls in from her job too. They discuss taking a drive to a used bookstore and then visiting Mia's grandparents. Mia considers not going but eventually decides to go. She left her cello at school, so she can't practice.

During the drive, the family argues about what music to play. Mia wins and puts on a cello concerto. She closes her eyes. Next thing she knows, she is on the roadside. There's been a terrible accident. Mia is somehow outside her body, examining the scene. Her parents are dead, and she can't find Teddy. The car radio is still playing, and Mia comforts herself by fingering the notes until the ambulance arrives.

At the hospital, doctors examine Mia and find that she needs surgery. Mia realizes that she can walk around. She boards a helicopter as they take her body to a different hospital. Her brother, still alive, stays at the first hospital with Willow, a nurse and friend of the family.


At the big hospital in Portland, doctors perform surgery on Mia. She has multiple injuries and is in a coma; doctors are not sure she'll survive.

Mia's grandparents, Gran and Gramps, arrive at the hospital, as do many other members of the family. Mia can walk around the hospital and sees them in the waiting room. Through flashbacks, she remembers many important events in her life, from her first cello recital to meeting her best friend, Kim Schein.

Kim and her overprotective mother are also at the hospital. Kim prays for Mia and seems to know that Mia is there. She tells Mia not to die.

Mia's grandparents talk to the nurses and a social worker. The social worker tells them she doesn't know if Mia can hear them or not. Another nurse, Nurse Ramirez, tells them that Mia is in the driver's seat and that she decides whether to live or die. Mia is a little overwhelmed thinking about this.

Through flashbacks, the reader learns more about Mia, including her relationship with Adam Wilde, which started when he took her to a cello concert. The cello is the biggest thing in Mia's life, and she recently auditioned for the Juilliard School in New York.


Adam arrives at the intensive care unit (ICU), but the nurse refuses to let him in. She tells him that only "immediate family" is allowed. Desperate to see Mia, Adam devises a plan to get in. He creates a distraction by bringing a famous rock star his band is opening for, but the tactic doesn't work. They're about to get kicked out when Willow, the nurse from the other hospital, intercedes.

Meanwhile, Mia realizes that if Willow is with her, it means she no longer needs to be with Teddy. Teddy has died. Heartbroken, Mia becomes sicker and has to go back to surgery.

During this time, there are additional flashbacks involving Mia's time in cello camp. She also remembers attending a funeral with her parents.

Early the Next Morning

In the middle of the night, Mia's grandparents visit her. Gran looks great, but Gramps looks old and sick. After Gran leaves, Gramps comes in, crying. Gran has been very positive and upbeat. Gramps tells Mia that it's okay if she chooses to go. He'll understand.

Mia has two other visitors in the middle of the night. The first is Adam, who has finally gotten in. He stays only briefly and then leaves, saying he'll come back. She's surprised he leaves so quickly but remembers how she's been struggling with the idea of going to Juilliard and leaving him. She knows she'll go if she gets in, but she'll miss him.

The next visitor is her friend, Kim. Kim lists all the people who have come to see Mia. There are others who can't come visit because there isn't enough room. These people, Kim says, are Mia's family. She still has a family.


In the morning, Mia thinks she's made the decision to let go but then realizes she's waiting for Adam. He returns, crying. "Stay," he tells her. He says if she stays, he'll do whatever she wants, even move to New York. He places headphones over her ears. It's Yo-Yo Ma playing the cello. For Mia, this brings back all sorts of memories and visions for the future. She sees herself with the cello in New York. She feels a jolt of pain and realizes how painful staying will be.

She wakes up.

If I Stay Plot Diagram

Climax123456789Rising ActionFalling ActionResolutionIntroduction


1 The Hall family gets into a terrible car accident.

Rising Action

2 Mia is rushed to the hospital for surgery.

3 Nurse Ramirez says it's Mia's choice to live or die.

4 Adam and Kim try to visit and are thrown out.

5 Mia finds out that her brother has died.

6 Gramps says it's okay if Mia chooses to die.


7 Adam visits and puts the headphones over Mia's ears.

Falling Action

8 Memories and visions of the future swirl through Mia's mind.


9 Mia wakes up.

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