School Paper Questions

Writing a paper on If I Stay? Here are some answers to questions you might have.

What is Mia’s last name?

She doesn’t have one in this book. Nor do her parents or grandparents have names. So, you’re not crazy. She’s just Mia.

Where does Mia live?

Somewhere in Oregon. Again, you’re not crazy. I never give a specific town name. The hospital is in Portland, but Mia’s hometown is intentionally nebulous. Why did I do this? Not to drive you crazy but because there was no one Oregon town that had all the attributes I wanted so I combined a bunch of towns together. That’s the liberating joy of fiction!

Where do I live?

Brooklyn, NY. See, I can be specific.

How long have I been writing?

I’ve been making up stories since I could talk. I wrote a play in 8th grade called “Going to Crete Again For the First Time” (woohwooh). I started writing a novel when I was 16. I wrote bad poetry all my life. But I had no idea I wanted to be a professional writer until I started studying journalism in college, and no idea I’d be a novelist until I sat down and wrote my first young-adult novel when I was 34.

What is the theme of If I Stay?

You know, that’s a tough one. It’s not like writers sit down with a list of lessons and themes to inject into their novels—or at least I sure don’t. I sit down with a burning story to tell and I write it as fast as I can until I’ve told it to the best of my ability. But here are some of the themes that other people have picked up when reading the book:

Choice

Sacrifice

Immortality

And I have to say, that if I had to pinpoint my own theme or takeaway, it was something I realized after I wrote the book, and it has to do with why I wrote the book, and you can read the long version of that in the paperback version of the book, in author’s note called The Story Behind The Story.

Does Mia live or die at the end of If I Stay?

Okay, I wasn’t trying to be all maddening and vague with the ending of the book and I dig that people come away with different interpretations than I intended. But if you wanted to know what I did intend, well I’m not going to tell you. I’m going to be all English teachery and help lead you to the answer by pointing out the following:

#1. After Adam begs Mia to stay and plays her the Yo-Yo Ma and she imagines her life and wants to hold his hand, for the first time since the accident, she finds herself back in her body.

#2. She can feel things at last. Her physical self. Pain. Adam’s hand.

#3. When she is trying to squeeze his hand, she says “This is so hard. This is the hardest thing I will ever have to do.”

#4. When she is contemplating what her life might be like, she calls the loss of her family profound and catastrophic and says that it will leave a crater in her that nothing that will ever fill, but she also imagines what an unknown future could bring her.

#5. She squeezes Adam’s hand.

#6 Adam’s feels her do this.

#7. She can actually hear his voice.

So, what do these things seven things suggest to you?

Still on the fence? Many people have suggested that though this book is sad, it is ultimately uplifting, a characterization I would agree with. Does that answer the question once and for all?

If you’re looking for some more juicy and thought-provoking questions on If I Stay, check out the Readers’ Guide but beware that it is full of spoilers so don’t read it before you’ve read the book.