If I Stay

In an instant, everything changes for seventeen-year-old Mia. A horrific car accident kills her family and leaves Mia struggling for her life. As her injured body is taken to the hospital, Mia hovers between life and death. Mia sees herself and is able to walk through the hospital and listen to the living.

Mia roams the halls of the hospitals and listens in on family, friends, and others. As she contemplates her life, she struggles with the loss of her family.  In the end, she must decide if she will stay.  Can Mia face life with possibly crippling injuries? Is her love of friends and family enough to make her stay? Is her life worth living if her family is gone?

Readers will be captivated as Mia reflects on her relationship with her family, boyfriend, and friends.  Told from Mia’s point of view, teens will relate with her as she navigates the difficult decisions about college and boyfriends. If I stay is geared for older readers who are ready to read a book with mature themes and sexual material.

Sexual Content

  • Mia talks about her boyfriend. “. . . We hadn’t done much more than kiss. It wasn’t that I was a prude. I was a virgin, but I certainly wasn’t devoted to staying that way.”
  • Mia’s mom took her to Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills and told Mia to have her boyfriend get tested for various diseases. She gave Mia money to buy condoms.
  • Mia’s friend goes to a Jewish summer camp each year. Her friend calls it “Torah Whore, because all the kids do all summer is hook up.”
  • Mia’s mother talked about dating in high school. “There’s only so many times a girl wants to get drunk on Mickey’s Big Mouth, go cow-tipping, and make out in the back of a pickup truck.” Later on, the story talks about Mia and her boyfriend’s relationship. “It was nothing like the drunken roll in the back of some guy’s Chevy that passed for a relationship when I was in high school.”
  • A girl drops out of high school because she is pregnant.
  • At a New Year’s party, Mia’s boyfriend kisses her. “And I kissed him back so hard, like I was trying to merge our bodies through our lips.


  • Mia’s family is in a car accident. Her parent’s bodies are described in gory detail. Mia sees her father’s body. “. . . As I walk toward him, the pavement grows slick and there are gray chunks of what looks like cauliflower . . . Pieces of my father’s brain are on the asphalt.”  She also sees her own injured body. “One of my legs is askew, the skin and muscles peeled away so that I can see white streaks of bone.”
  • Mia and another girl fight. “She charged me like a bull, knocking the wind out of me. I punched her on the side of the head, fist closed, like men do.”  The two end up becoming friends.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Mia’s father would get “wasted” to help him deal with stage fright. Her father said, “I don’t recommend that for you. . . Social services frowns on drunk ten-year-olds.”
  • Mia’s boyfriend can’t get into the hospital to see Mia. His friend suggests he “fake a drug overdose or something so you wind up in the ICU.” He replies, “this is Portland. You’re lucky if a drug overdose does get you into the ER.”
  • Mia and her boyfriend go to a New Year’s party where he gets drunk. Mia has one beer.


  • Profanity is used often and includes asshole, bitch, crappy, damn, dicking, goddamnnit, piss, hell, motherfucking, fucking, and shitty.
  • A medic said that they need to get Mia to the hospital quickly even if they “have to speed like a fucking demon.”
  • Mia’s boyfriend tells her, “I love that you’re fragile and tough, quiet and kick-ass. Hell, you’re one of the punkiest girls I know. . . “
  • Someone asked Mia about playing cello with others. “I don’t mean to sound like an asshole, but isn’t that how you get good? It’s like tennis, if you play someone crappy, you end up missing shots or serving all sloppy. . .”
  • When Mia’s friends are in the hospital, they ask about another patient. Mia thinks, “I’ve never heard any of Adam’s friends talk so PG-13 before. It’s their sanitized hospital version of ‘holy fucking shit.’”
  • Mia’s mom said, “Love’s a bitch.”


  • Mia is in a coma and can see and hear living people. She must decide if she lives or dies. Her living is “not up to the doctors. It’s not up to the absentee angels. It’s not even up to God who, if He exists, is nowhere around right now. It’s up to me.”
  • Mia describes memories that she has from before she was born. Mia thinks of her grandmother and, “that maybe I was there as an angel before I choose to become Mom and Dad’s kid.”

Spiritual Content

  • Mia’s grandparents talk about guardian angels. Mia thinks, “maybe I’ll tell Gran that I never much bought into her theory that birds and such could be people’s guardian angels. And now I’m more sure than ever that there’s no such thing.”
  • Mia thinks back to a funeral that she went to with her parents. The person giving the eulogy, “concluded by reassuring us that Kerry was walking with Jesus now. I could see my mom getting red when he said that, and I started to get a little worried that she might say something. We went to church sometimes, so it’s not like Mom had anything against religion, but Kerry did. . .”


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