Memorable Characters And A Beautiful Love Story In Gayle Forman’s New Book

if i stay

Mia is now a senior in high school in Oregon.  She is a gifted musician and hopes her talent at the cello will lead her to Julliard.  Her mom and dad are unconventional.  Her dad is a former punk rocker and her mom is a self proclaimed tough feminist chick!  They both are surprised when Mia develops a taste and talent for classical music.  Mia also has a boyfriend, named Adam whose band is up and coming.  They were an unlikely match.  At school they are called groovy and the geek. Mia is struggling to admit to Adam that she may go across the country to college and that worry occupies much of her mind.  During a rare Oregon snow day, her family decides to take a drive to visit some friends.  As Mia drifts off to sleep she is jarred away by the accident that throws her from the car.  She discovers her parents are killed.  While searching for her little brother she comes across her own severely injured body.  As the paramedics take her away and med flight her to a hospital she follows her body through surgery and the post operative coma where her grandparents, aunts and uncles sit in vigil.  At this point the only choice weighing on Mia’s mind is should she stay or simply drift away.  While Mia watches doctors try to save her life we are taken in a series of flashbacks to her life with her loving family and her relationship with her rock star boyfriend, Adam. 

The character development in this story is beautiful.  I became attached to Mia’s wonderful and quirky family.  The relationship she has with her parents is loving and respectful.  I became attached to these characters which makes it all the more painful knowing they are dead.  Mia’s relationship with Adam is not without problems.  However, their relationship is based on respect and a mutual love of music.  There is a scene where she and Adam first become intimate that is so original and beautiful.   Adam is never rude or mean to Mia.  He treats her with kindness.  It is a nice change of pace from many romances found in young adult books.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Talk about the relationship Mia has with her parents.  Why does it seem to work so well?

Discuss the theme toward the end talks about how living is much harder than dying. 

Talk about the tough decision Mia has to make about college and Adam.

Talk about her relationship with Adam.  How is it different from other characters in books you read?  How is it alike or different than your own relationships?

The sound of the cello brings Mia back.  Talk about what is most important to you and what would bring you back.

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