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Book Club Kits: If I Stay

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

On a day that started like any other…

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

Discussion 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 has two important peer relationships in the story—with her best friend, Kim, and her boyfriend, Adam. Why are Kim and Adam distant with one another? How does Mia handle the friction between them before the accident? How does the accident change things between Kim and Adam?

  • What role does music play in the story?

  • Mia and Adam have different musical interests. Mia loves classical music and plays the cello. Adam plays guitar in a popular rock band. What draws them together?

  • Mia struggles to fit in with Adam’s group. For Halloween Mia surprises him by dressing as a rocker chick. What is Adam’s reaction?

  • The themes of sacrifice and choice occur throughout the story and play out in several relationships. What is the difference between sacrifice and choice? How are they similar? Is Mia’s father giving up his own music because of his children a sacrifice or a choice?

  • 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?

  • How is Mia’s father a symbol for one person transforming his or 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?

  • Kim says to Mia, “You still have a family.” What does this mean to you? What is a family?

  • Adam goes to desperate measures to see Mia for the first time after the accident and then stays only a few minutes before racing out. He returns later with some classical music and a headset he puts on Mia. What does this act suggest about his relationship with Mia?

  • Forman makes extended use of flashback to tell the story. Explain how the flashback scenes help us understand Mia’s thoughts about living or dying.

  • Were you surprised that Mia decided to live? How would your response to the story be different if Mia had died?

  • Could the story have been titled If I Leave? Why or why not?

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