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Reading Discussion Guides

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

About the Book

Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; but in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck…

Through real-time narration and flashbacks, readers will come to know Mia and the people in her life. More than a love story, more than a story about living or dying, If I Stay is a story about how we transform our lives.

About the Author

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, The Nation, The New York Times Magazine, and Elle. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. Visit her at

Reprinted with permission from Penguin Books.

Discussion Questions

Pre-reading questions

  • Compare and contrast a point in your life when you felt you controlled your future with a time when you felt powerless.
  • Describe a situation when you gave up something in your life. Why did you do it? How did giving it up make you feel?
  • How much control do we have over our own destiny?
  • Is it possible to love someone, yet walk away from a relationship?
  • What coping skills help us deal with personal tragedy?

After reading questions

  • The story opens with school being closed because of inclement weather and Mia’s family deciding to take a trip to visit friends and relatives. Describe the mood of the morning. What role does this scene play when tragedy hits?
  • After the initial tragedy, the reader learns more about Mia’s parents. What does Mia have in common with her father? Her mother?
  • Mia’s grandparents each play an influential role in her life. What do each of them give her? How are these relationships similar? Different? How have they influenced Mia’s father?
  • Mia has two important peer relationships in the story — with her best friend, Kim, and her boyfriend, Adam. Kim and Adam are distant with one another. Is Mia’s reaction to their coolness toward one another natural?
  • Mia struggles to fit in with Adam’s group. For Halloween Mia goes all out and surprises him by dressing as a rocker chick. What is Adam’s reaction? Explain.
  • Discuss the meanings of “sacrifice” and of “choice.” How are they different? How are they similar?
  • How is Mia’s father a symbol for one person transforming his/her life for another? How does Gramps view his decision? Do Henry and Willow understand why Mia’s father wants to change? What decisions must Adam and Mia consider? Are these choices or sacrifices?
  • Mia is pulled between wanting to die and wanting to live, so much so that she wishes for a “death proxy.” What effect does Gramps’s visit have on Mia?
  • What meaning can you attribute to the song written by Mia’s father? How does it represent themes in the story? How does it represent Mia’s life? That of her father? Her mother? The lives of their family friends Henry and Willow?
  • Discuss the use of point of view in the story. To continue the first person, present tense, point of view introduced in the opening scene, the writer has Mia narrate the story in an unusual way. Why might the author have chosen this technique instead of writing from third person point of view?
If I Stay

If I Stay

Gayle Forman
Age Level:
Middle Grade