Study Guide

If I Stay Summary

By Gayle Forman

If I Stay Summary

Mia and her family get to enjoy a snow day at the beginning of If I Stay. And it's perfect. Breakfast at home. A nice drive. A horrible car accident that kills almost the entire family instantly.

Okay, so the snow day is far from perfect.

Snow days should be less bloody, but Mia doesn't have a choice… yet.

After the fatal accident, Mia finds herself having an out-of-body experience. The body that she is currently out of is alive, but it's hanging on by a thread. Helpless, ghost Mia watches her body being airlifted to a nearby hospital and put on life support.

As some sort of invisible spirit, Mia watches as her grandparents, relatives, and best friend Kim flock to her side. They pray for her recovery. Mia hopes her little brother, Teddy, is still alive, but the person she really wants to see is her boyfriend, Adam.

Mia has a series of flashbacks, some about her family, but mostly about Adam. He's in a band called Shooting Star. They met because of their shared love of music. He's hot, he's romantic, and her hip parents love him. They're a match made in heaven… which isn't where Mia is going.

See, Mia isn't a spiritual person. There is no white light for her. Her dead parents aren't beckoning to her from beyond. But Mia feels like she has a choice. She can choose to wake up, or she can choose to fade away into the darkness. Mia doesn't want to wake up unless she sees Adam.

Her friend Kim brings Adam to the hospital, but he isn't allowed to see her. Immediate family only in the ICU, folks. Adam gets a musician friend of his to create a distraction, and he rushes in to see Mia—but he's pulled away by guards before he can touch her lifeless body.

Mia soon learns that her little brother is more dead-y than Teddy, and she considers dying, too, in order to send the whole family down with the proverbial ship. But she remembers her promising college opportunity at Juilliard. Mia loves music, and she loves playing cello. Adam returns, and he plays a Yo-Yo Ma track on his iPod. He also holds Mia's hand, and the combo of her two loves—Adam and cello music—bring her back to life. And that's where the book ends, as Mia's life is beginning anew.