If I Stay | Study Guide

Gayle Forman

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Course Hero. "If I Stay Study Guide." Course Hero. 26 July 2019. Web. 11 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 11, 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 11, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/.


Course Hero, "If I Stay Study Guide," July 26, 2019, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/If-I-Stay/.

If I Stay | Symbols



Mia's cello is present throughout the book. When the accident occurs, Mia is listening to cello music, and even when the car is mangled from the crash, the music continues to play. Mia takes comfort in this, fingering the notes as she waits for the ambulance. The cello will stay with her throughout the book, even though her family is gone.

Mia refers to her cello as if it were a person. She takes it on an airline flight, sits it in a seat, and her brother gives it pretzels. In the book, Mia has lost her entire family, so it is significant that the cello is there like another family member, a person who hasn't been taken away from her. She still has music. In the end, it is cello music, played by Yo-Yo Ma, that wakes her from her coma.


Coffee is another frequent symbol in the story. Everyone in the Hall family drinks coffee, even eight-year-old Teddy, who drinks decaf. People associate coffee with waking up. Mia is in a coma and considering whether to wake up. When her grandfather arrives, he is drinking coffee, and Mia wishes she could have some, even though it looks bad. Coffee is also used as a symbol of the people who drink it. Mia drinks black coffee, while Kim drinks fancy coffee drinks. They are friends despite this difference, but Mia seems to feel a little superior because she likes her coffee strong and unadulterated.

Angels and Birds

Mia's grandmother, Gran, believes in angels and collects them. She also believes that people have guardian angels who watch over them, sometimes in the form of birds. For example, she thinks Mia's deceased great-aunt Glo is a crossbill, a kind of bird. Mia doesn't believe in angels because she thinks her parents would be there for her if they could be. Later, she thinks maybe they're with her brother instead. Thus, angels symbolize kind spirits of people who used to be alive and who stick around to help the living on their journey.

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