If I Stay

If I Stay Summary and Analysis of 10:12 A.M., 12:19 P.M., and 3:17 P.M.


The medics rush Mia’s body to the nearest hospital’s emergency room, shouting about a collapsed lung. They say the other driver is suffering mild concussions, while the parents were DOA—dead on arrival. The nurses say Mia’s brother Teddy is being brought in behind her; Mia is relieved to know he is alive.

Mia runs behind the medics as her comatose body is rushed out of the ER and taken to the roof, where a medical emergency helicopter has just arrived. Mia notices Willow is working at the hospital. The medics continue to work on Mia in the helicopter, communicating through headsets. She continues to wonder if she is dead, but figures they wouldn’t have put her in the helicopter if she were. As she flies over lush forests, Mia wonders what is happening with her best friend Kim and her boyfriend Adam. Mia guesses she is being flown to Portland, where Adam is going to play a show that night.

Mia recounts how she and Adam met. They flirted in the music room at their high school for a while before Adam asked her on a date to hear Yo-Yo Ma perform in Portland. During the concert, Mia worries Adam is bored. But he grasps her hand during the performance, swaying his head, lost in the music. They kiss at the end of the date.

In the surgery room, Mia details her injuries: collapsed lung, ruptured spleen, internal bleeding, brain contusions, broken ribs, abrasions on her legs and face. She learns her blood type is O negative as the doctors pump it through her body. Mia wonders what state she is in. She tries to move her body but can’t. She wonders how she could get back to her body.

She follows a nurse to a waiting room, where Mia’s grandparents are. Mia recounts how Juilliard was her Gran’s idea. The summer before, Mia performed for her family and a family friend suggested Mia was good enough for Juilliard. Mia had never thought herself good enough, but her grandmother convinced her to try out. Mia sent in her application without telling Adam, but Mia told him once she was invited to audition in San Francisco. Mia’s grandfather took her to the audition.

Mia is moved into the trauma intensive-care unit. She cannot count the number of tubes pumping and draining liquids into and out of her body. A social worker talks to Mia’s grandparents and overhears that she is in grave condition. The social worker mentions the names of people on their way to the hospital. She doesn’t hear Adam’s name. He is the only person she really wants to see.

Mia recounts how things didn’t start out smoothly with Adam. After their date, they behaved awkwardly around each other at school. Out of school, when she sees his band play, she feels anxious about her inability to blend into his social circle. Mia says they probably would have broken up were it not for the common ground they found when Adam came to her house. Adam talked music and played basketball with her father. One evening after dinner Mia takes him up to her room. Adam asks her to play him like her cello. She is confused for a moment, then takes out her bow and brushes it over his body. She feels a surge of love and lust. They switch places. He touches her body, and she feels a deep vibration within her, similar to the vibrations of the tuning fork she uses to tune her cello. They kiss, then it is time for him to go home.


It relieves Mia to hear that medics brought Teddy to the hospital, because it means he didn’t die at the crash site like their parents. As the out-of-body Mia rushes to keep up with her comatose body and the medics, the limitations of her floating point of view are established: she cannot fly and teleport like a ghost, but remains tethered near her body.

In another recollection, Mia introduces the main complication in her and Adam’s relationship. From the beginning, she felt as though they belonged to different social circles. While she is into classical music and plays the cello, he is an admired punk-rocker. However, he makes an effort to engage her interests on their first date when he takes her to a performance by the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

The innocence of the memory contrasts with the catalog of Mia’s injuries. In a matter-of-fact tone, she details the myriad traumas her body has undergone. She is still uncertain about what the distance between her consciousness and her broken body means.

While blood is pumped through Mia’s body, she recounts more difficulties between her and Adam. Adam’s success with his band Shooting Star and the prospect of Mia leaving Oregon to attend the prestigious Juilliard music school in New York City has loomed over their relationship.

In addition, the social awkwardness at school is so pronounced that Mia believes that she and Adam would have broken up were it not for her house. At home, she and Adam were able to get along outside their regular milieu. Her parents, particularly her father, welcomed Adam into the house, for which Mia is grateful. At the house, they were able to break through their awkwardness and find common ground, falling further in love. However, this recollection introduces a conflict: if Mia chooses to live, will she and Adam be able to access that same happiness, or will the absence of her parents prevent them from enjoying each other’s company?