If I Stay

If I Stay Literary Elements


Realistic fiction; young adult fiction.

Setting and Context

The story is set in modern-day Oregon; most of the action takes place in the ICU at a Portland hospital.

Narrator and Point of View

Mia narrates the novel from a first-person perspective. Throughout the novel, her narration shifts between a present-tense timeline involving the car accident's aftermath and a past-tense timeline of memories that precede the crash.

Tone and Mood

The tone is matter-of-fact, tragic, and romantic. The mood oscillates between despair and hope.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Mia is the protagonist; she is antagonized by her uncertainty about whether to live or die.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is that Mia must decide whether to live with the pain of having lost her loving family or join them in death.


The climax occurs when Mia's boyfriend Adam puts headphones over her ears and plays Yo-Yo Ma—music that provokes thoughts of the future and brings her back into her body, waking her from her coma.


The novel begins with a line of foreshadowing: “Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true." The unspecified "it" is the car crash that kills Mia's family.






Metonymy and Synecdoche