Study Guide

If I Stay Art and Culture

By Gayle Forman

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Art and Culture

She has acquired a taste for classical music over the years—"it's like learning to appreciate a stinky cheese." (1.30)

Mom has a snooty attitude toward classical music, but could the same be said for the type of rock music Mom enjoys? We're gonna go ahead and just say yes. Like mother, like daughter, it turns out.

In my family, playing music was still more important than the type of music you played. (3.20)

The family that plays music together, stays together. Unless they're torn apart in a terrible car accident, of course. But seriously, why is music such a binding thing for this family? Is it a special form of communication they can share?

"I'm obsessed with music and even I don't get transported like you do." (4.56)

Music is a common thread not just among Mia's family, but between her and Adam, too. They wouldn't have ever gone out if it were not for her love of music. Why is sharing a love of music so important?

[Dad] says that jazz is punk for old people. (5.12)

This is a good quote, because it's true. Both styles of music flout conventions and have performers who like to do whatever they want and explore their genres in any way they see fit. Jazz usually has less blood on stage, of course, but now we're just quibbling.

I loved to watch him play. When he was onstage, it was like the guitar was a fifth limb, a natural extension of his body. (6.18)

The "fifth limb" comment creates an erotic image with Adam and his guitar, making him seem very, um, masculine. Seriously, though, rocker guys with guitars—they've always been magnets.

"I want you to play me like a cello." (6.41)

Oh, we see how it is, Adam. The erotic quality of music continues with the "play me like a cello" scene, where Mia runs her cello bow over Adam's body. It's either romantic or ridiculous; come to think of it, romance is often kind of ridiculous, though we love it, anyway.

I understood what it was like to merge your energy with the mob's and to absorb theirs as well. (9.71)

Cello is a solo pursuit. A mosh pit is not. Mia steps out of her comfort zone and enjoys being in the middle of the huge group. It's a totally different type of musical experience, and a different type of communal experience, too.

The truth was, I could no sooner quit cello cold turkey than I could stop breathing. (11.50)

Music is part of Mia's lifeblood, and we'll see at the end of the book that cello music is what brings her back to life.

"It just seems like your cello is part of who you are. I can't imagine you without that thing between your legs." (11.60)

That's what she said. 

Oh, wait. That's what he said. But okay, Gayle Forman, we get it. Music is sexy, and playing music is even sexier.

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