If I Stay


Gayle Forman

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If I Stay: 4:39 PM Summary & Analysis

Many of Mia’s relatives, as well as her best friend Kim and Kim’s mother Mrs. Schein, arrive at the hospital waiting area to await news of Mia’s condition. While Mrs. Schein, notoriously emotional, is distraught, Kim stays calm and collected in the face of the tragedy. Mia recalls Shabbat dinners that she has attended with the Schein family, and how Kim’s Jewish faith has influenced her life. Kim’s parents expect her to date a Jewish boy, and sent her to Jewish sleep-away camp every summer. Kim leaves her sobbing mother to take a walk, and Mia follows her. Kim finds her way to the hospital’s chapel, where she prays for Mia in Hebrew.
Kim’s strength in the face of Mrs. Schein’s hysterics reminds Mia of how grateful she is to have Kim’s resilience and willpower in her life. Along with her grandparents, Adam, and her immediate family, Kim has been one of the most influential and important people in Mia’s life so far—a crucial part of her small but intimate circle of relationships.
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In a flashback, Mia remembers how she and Kim hated each other when they first met in middle school. Because they are quiet, dark-haired, and serious about art (photography in Kim’s case, and the cello in Mia’s), students and teachers implicitly paired the two girls together. Most likely because of these assumptions, Kim and Mia quickly developed a strong dislike for one another. Their middle-school hatred of each other reached a tipping point when they ended up in a schoolyard fistfight. However, after teachers break them apart, the two girls look at each other and laugh, despite their bruises and scrapes. This marks the beginning of their close friendship.
The beginning of Mia and Kim’s friendship is a metaphor for many things in Mia’s life. Situations that start out badly or uncomfortably—such as her relationship with Kim or Adam, and her family’s attitude towards her love of the cello—eventually grow into strong bonds in the wake of adversity.
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After the fight between Mia and Kim, Mrs. Schein, Kim’s overprotective mother, would not allow Kim to visit Mia’s house. However, after finally coming to Mia’s house for dinner with Mia’s family, Mrs. Schein consents to allowing Kim to spend time with Mia at her house. Though students and teachers soon revert to assuming the two girls are “quiet, good-girl twins,” Kim and Mia don’t mind, and welcome being linked to one another.
Despite a rocky start to their friendship, Mia and Kim form a strong bond that develops over the years. Their peers’ view that the two girls are “goody two-shoes” does not change much, but it seems that the girls don’t mind—they are happy with each other’s company, and don’t care what others think.
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