The novel's opening line is an example of dramatic irony: by alluding to the event that sets the plot in motion as "it," Mia hints to the reader that something significant is about to happen. This technique adds tension when the narration switches to the present tense and Mia introduces her family members. While the reader doesn't yet know the exact details of the car crash that will kill Mia's family, the reader knows something will soon occur, while Mia's family remains oblivious.
The radio still works (Situational Irony)
After the car crash, Mia's first comment is that "you wouldn't expect the radio to work afterward. But it does." In this instance of situational irony, the radio continues to play music even though the car has been completely destroyed and Mia's family's bodies have been thrown from the vehicle. The fact that the music continues playing is not only unexpected, but lends the scene a surreal, dreamlike quality.
"I love Oregon" (Verbal Irony)
When Kim goes to the hospital's prayer room, she says "I love Oregon." This sarcastic comment is an example of verbal irony, as Kim is, in fact, disparaging the hospital's paltry effort to be nondenominational, which she sees as a result of an Oregonian tendency to appear inclusive and multicultural.
Kim and Mia used to be enemies (Situational Irony)
In an example of situational irony, Kim and Mia—while best friends in the present—used to hate each other. Mia reflects that their similarity is likely what caused them to war against each other. It is only through an escalation of tensions that results in a physical fight that Mia and Kim can achieve a level of mutual respect and admiration. Their friendship is ironic because the origin of their relationship stands in stark contrast to what the relationship later becomes.
If I Stay Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for If I Stay is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.