If I Stay Analysis
by Gayle Forman

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If I Stay Analysis

New York Times bestselling novelist Gayle Forman wrote If I Stay in 2009, and, after the book met with such success, it was made into a film in 2014. The section titles denote the time of day, and time is a touchstone of the novel. In brief, the novel is an examination of what it means to be alive.

The seventeen-year-old protagonist Mia is an accomplished cellist and has applied to the Juilliard school of music. Her family is in a serious car accident, which immediately kills Mia's parents, leaves her brother in critical condition, and leaves Mia in a coma. Mia then has an out-of-body experience that allows her to watch the paramedics treat her body. As she watches her wounded and exposed body in the hospital, the narration flashes back to various points in her childhood.

Mia describes her family affectionally: her parents are former punk-rockers and her young brother, Teddy, plays the drums. She remembers becoming friends with her best friend Kim, the beginning of her relationship with Adam, who plays the guitar, and her audition for Juilliard with her grandparents in San Francisco. Through these snapshots, Mia paints a detailed picture of her life and relationships.

During this experience, Mia hears a nurse tell her grandparents (who are visiting her in the ICU) that it is up to Mia whether she will wake up and regain consciousness. This burden of decision prompts Mia to recollect all the people she knows who have died, including (as she eventually realizes while wandering the hospital) her brother Teddy, her great-aunt, and a family friend who died as a young adult. Mia's decision, simply put, is whether to remain alive or to die. Mia wonders whether all people who face death struggle with this choice.

No small portion of the book is devoted to Mia's reflection on the circumstances of her relationship with Adam (specifically, the tension that...

(The entire section is 490 words.)