Study Guide

If I Stay Mortality

By Gayle Forman

Advertisement - Guide continues below


Pieces of my father's brain are on the asphalt. But his pipe is in his left breast pocket. (2.20)

This book does not flinch from a graphic depiction of Mia's dad's death. The first line is brutal and gory, but the second line is a tragic reminder of her dad's life.

I find Mom next. There's almost no blood on her, but her lips are already blue and the whites of her eyes are completely red, like a ghoul from a low-budget monster movie. (2.22)

With Mom, we don't get the same humanizing touch as with Dad (remember that pipe in his pocket?). Why doesn't Mom get the same sympathetic treatment? Either way, though, it's a reminder of how fragile we are.

One of my breasts is exposed. Embarrassed, I look away. (3.7)

Mia learns that there is no modesty in death. The paramedics are more concerned with saving her life than with preserving her modesty.

Grave sounds bad. Grave is where you go when things don't work out here. (5.4)

The nurses wouldn't say the word "grave" if they knew Mia could hear them. It's another reminder to Mia of how fragile she is, and how fragile life is in general.

"Please don't die. I can understand why you'd want to, but think about this: If you die, there's going to be one of those cheesy Princess Diana memorials at school, where everyone puts flowers and candles and notes next to your locker. […] I know you'd hate that kind of thing." (7.21)

The sentiment behind Kim's line is repeated later, when Mia's parents talk about how you can't control your own funeral. Mia would hate this, and to her, it's very important to go out on her own terms.

My parents aren't here. They are not holding my hand, or cheering me on. (9.11)

This book doesn't have a spiritual view of the afterlife. There is no glowing light, or angelic parents keeping her safe. When you're dead, you're dead and gone, at least as far as we can tell. Or perhaps the issue is that because Mia's not yet dead, she isn't able to see over to the other side.

And that's how I know. Teddy. He's gone too. (12.74)

One of the reasons Mia gives us for staying alive is that she doesn't want to leave her little brother behind. But when she finds out he is gone, she considers dying herself. But does she think Teddy would want her to do this?

"Let's not judge too harshly. It has to be heartbreaking to bury your child." (13.44)

If there's a silver lining to this tragic accident, it's that Mia's parents do not have to bury her. We guess. It's kind of heartbreaking to bury anybody, though.

"I just think that funerals are a lot like death itself. You can have your wishes, your plans, but at the end of the day, it's out of your control." (13.50)

This is the line that explains why Mia wouldn't want a Princess Diana funeral. It's ultimately out of her control, though, unless she wakes up.

Is that what death would feel like? The nicest, warmest, heaviest never-ending nap? If that's what it's like, I wouldn't mind. If that's what dying is like, I wouldn't mind that at all. (14.12)

Mia is only making an assumption here. The one thing she learns for sure in this experience is that there is no certainty about what happens after death. Is it just us, or is she not thinking all that hard about what her choices really are?

If I Stay Mortality Study Group

Ask questions, get answers, and discuss with others.

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

This is a premium product

Please Wait...