If I Stay

If I Stay Summary and Analysis of 4:39 P.M., 4:47 P.M., 5:40 P.M., and 7:13 P.M.


More family members have arrived at the hospital: Uncle Greg, Aunt Diane, Aunt Kate, cousins Heather, John, and David. Mia notices no one mentions Teddy. Mia is happy when her best friend Kim and Kim’s mother arrive. Mia observes Kim reprimand her mother for crying; Kim says that she won’t cry as long as Mia is still alive. Mia follows Kim to a nondenominational chapel in the hospital. Mia sits next to her, and Kim speaks aloud, asking Mia not to die.

Mia explains how she and Kim probably became friends because they were alike: both dark, quiet, studious, and serious. Because other people noticed their similarity, they were paired together in PE and in English, though they resented each other at first. Kim even sent Mia a note in class that called Mia a “bitch.” They had a fistfight on the playground, then ended up laughing and respecting each other. From that point on, they were friends.

Mia recounts the time her mother took her to a casino. The sounds of the casino are similar to the sounds of the ICU, and there is also a lack of natural light. The doctors keep coming to lift Mia’s eyelids and check her pupils with a flashlight. Her family is still in the waiting room, while Kim and her mother have left. The social worker gives the family an update: she is unconscious, but her vital signs are improving. They are unsure of the extent of the damage to her brain. Mia’s grandparents go into the ICU to visit Mia. A nurse suggests that Mia can hear everything they say.

Mia recounts how her parents conceived her when they were in their early twenties. She was the only kid in her parents’ social circle, and so Mia was raised by a musical community. When her parents tried for a second child, her mother miscarried twice before becoming pregnant with Teddy.

Mia is distressed when she overhears her grandparents discuss who decides if Mia “stays”—if she lives. Mia realizes it is up to her to decide if she stays. This terrifies her. She wonders where Adam is, which leads into a memory of a Halloween show Adam’s band was playing. They had been dating for six months by then, but Mia felt conflicted about their relationship. She didn’t understand why Adam had chosen her as his girlfriend. She didn’t feel she belonged to his social circle. Her mother helps Mia dress in a blonde wig, going as a Debbie Harry, the singer of the band Blondie. Adam dresses as Mozart. Mia feels brazen in the costume and kisses Adam openly in front of everyone at the show. On the drive home, however, she asks Adam if he likes her better like this. He pulls over and reassures her that he loves her for who she is. After that night, whenever she is unsure of Adam’s feelings, she thinks of the wig in her closet and is reassured.

Adam arrives at the hospital with Kim. Mia is grateful to Kim for having told him. He isn’t crying, but his face is like a blank mask. Mia overhears him angrily arguing with the hospital orderlies about not being let into the ICU to see Mia. Visits are restricted to immediate family. Kim joins the argument, but Adam tells her to back down after the orderly threatens to call security.

Mia remembers the time she told Kim that she had kissed Adam at the Yo-Yo Ma concert. Kim warns Mia not to become one of those girls who talks about herself and her boyfriend in the first-person singular, i.e. we. At first, Kim and Adam didn’t get along. Mia confronted Adam about it, and Adam said they just didn’t get along. Mia wishes that the two people who are most important to her would get along, but Kim tells Mia they are from different parts of her life, but that that is okay, because Adam and Kim are bound together through their love for Mia. Mia had never believed what Kim said until she saw Adam put his arm around Kim, who supported his weight as they walked down the hospital corridor.


By late afternoon, the hospital waiting room has filled with Mia’s friends and extended family. The question of what happened to Teddy is still ambiguous, though she notices none of them mention his name.

There comes a turning point when Mia overhears her grandparents discuss the idea of whether Mia stays or goes. Mia realizes it is up to her to decide whether she lives or dies. Until this point in the narrative, this decision—the story’s major conflict—had been simmering beneath the surface of Mia’s awareness. But now that the conflict has emerged, and Mia is terrified to discover that she has control over her own fate.

Mia’s revelation about her fate leads into a memory of a time in which she was unsure of how genuine Adam’s love for her was. It is significant that Mia reevaluates her relationship to Adam, since he would be her main support should she decide to live. Mia needs to know if what they have together is worth the pain of living on without her family.

Mia is relieved when Adam finally arrives at the hospital. However, to see him with Kim presents a new conflict: Mia has always worried that her best friend and her boyfriend don’t get along. Mia was shy to share the news of their first kiss, and for good reason; Kim’s response was to warn Mia not to become codependent and lose her individuality.

Despite their past mistrust, however, Kim and Adam cooperate and support each other at the hospital. Mia is pleased to know that the two people who mean the most to her are united in their love for her.