Study Guide

If I Stay Supernatural

By Gayle Forman

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There are many movies and books that imagine an afterlife. Patrick Swayze discovered what it was like to be a Ghost. Heaven Is For Real is a popular non-fiction memoir about a boy who finds out that, well, heaven is for real. And Robin Williams found out What Dreams May Come when he lost his fictional family, as Mia loses hers.

You can add If I Stay to the pantheon of afterlife fiction, but this one is the most understated and mundane of the bunch. Mia doesn't get to fly around, see God, or even walk through walls. Her supernatural power is merely to listen in on things her friends say in private. But maybe that's because she's not quite dead. Yet.

Questions About Supernatural

  1. What are the rules Mia must follow as a ghost of sorts? How are these rules similar to those in movies you may have seen, like Ghost? How are they different?
  2. If you found yourself in Mia's position, what would you try to do while in spectral form?
  3. Is it possible Mia imagined her whole out-of-body experience?

Chew on This

As a spirit, Mia gets proof that people are waiting for her to wake up, like Jimmy Stewart's character does from It's a Wonderful Life.

The supernatural aspect of the book is primarily used as a plot device. If the book were written in third person, we as readers could still find out what happens while Mia is unconscious, but she wouldn't. She would be distant from the action, and the book would feel less emotionally charged.

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