If I Stay

The Cello Symbol Icon

Mia is a talented cellist who plans to pursue a career in classical cello music. She fell in love with the instrument as a child, initially due to its “humanlike” shape, and has played it ever since. While her parents are punk rockers at heart, Mia has always felt an affinity to classical music. In the novel, the cello is a symbol of what makes Mia unique, and also what makes her feel different from her parents and from Adam, who plays guitar in a rock band. The cello is what may bring her to New York City to study at Juilliard, but it will also be what will take her away from Oregon, and thus from Adam, whose band is based there. Mia also learns, however, that her cello can also be used to create harmony in her life, rather than dissonance. This is especially apparent in a symbolic scene where Mia plays her cello alongside her Dad and Adam on their guitars, and together they create a unique and “pretty amazing” sound. The power of the cello as a symbol is also illustrated in the book’s final scene—when Adam puts the headphones on Mia, it is ultimately both the music of Yo-Yo Ma and cello music’s overall meaningfulness to Mia that gives her the strength to decide to stay.

The Cello Quotes in If I Stay

The If I Stay quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Cello. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Speak edition of If I Stay published in 2010.
7:09 AM Quotes

I know it’s silly but I have always wondered if Dad is disappointed that I didn’t become a rock chick. I’d meant to. Then, in third grade, I’d wandered over to the cello in music class—it looked almost human to me. It looked like if you played it, it would tell you secrets, so I started playing. It’s been almost ten years now and I haven’t stopped.

Related Characters: Mia Hall (speaker), Denny Hall (Dad)
Related Symbols: The Cello, Punk Rock and Classical Music
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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9:23 AM Quotes

Sometimes I did feel like I came from a different tribe. I was not like my outgoing, ironic dad or my tough-chick mom. And as if to seal the deal, instead of learning to play electric guitar, I’d gone and chosen the cello.

Related Characters: Mia Hall (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Cello, Punk Rock and Classical Music
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

5:42 AM Quotes

So I played. And even though you wouldn’t think it, the cello didn’t sound half bad with all those guitars. In fact, it sounded pretty amazing.

Related Characters: Mia Hall (speaker), Adam Wilde, Denny Hall (Dad)
Related Symbols: The Cello, Punk Rock and Classical Music
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

7:16 AM Quotes

Yo-Yo Ma continues to play, and it’s like the piano and cello are being poured into my body, the same way that the IV and blood transfusions are. And the memories of my life as it was, and the flashes of it as it might be, are coming so fast and furious. I feel like I can no longer keep up with them but they keep coming and everything is colliding, until I cannot take it anymore. Until I cannot be like this one second longer.

Related Characters: Mia Hall (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Cello, Punk Rock and Classical Music
Page Number: 232
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Cello Symbol Timeline in If I Stay

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Cello appears in If I Stay. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
7:09 AM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...to, though she notes that she may have to rehearse with a pianist and her cello teacher, Professor Christie, instead. Mia is a talented cellist, and recently auditioned for a spot... (full context)
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...like more coffee, Mia mentions that she is considering going back to bed, since her cello is at school and she can’t practice. Mom is incredulous that Mia would go a... (full context)
8:17 AM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...it’s over, when Mia turns it to the classical music station, which is playing Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no. 3. Happy and content to have the day off with her family, she... (full context)
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...calm herself down, she focuses on the music and plays what Adam calls her “air cello,” practicing the notes without her instrument. When the music dies away, she hears the sirens... (full context)
9:23 AM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...novel, Mia remembers herself at age ten, when she first fell in love with the cello. Her parents laughed at the idea of such a tiny girl playing such a large... (full context)
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...parents supported her musical talents, and ensured that she was always able to study the cello privately with college students. When she surpassed the abilities of the college students at around... (full context)
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...Mia plays the recital without a hitch. Afterwards, her parents present her with a new cello of her own. (full context)
10:12 AM
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...several months of chatting she realized he was genuinely interested in her attentiveness to the cello. While Adam is effortlessly cool, Mia’s introversion means that she is well-liked, but not overly... (full context)
12:19 PM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...one visit to Gran’s relatives in the East, Mia gives an impromptu concert with her cello, and someone brings up the idea that she is Juilliard-worthy. Gran speaks to Professor Christie... (full context)
3:47 PM
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...in Mia’s bedroom after dinner, Adam invites Mia to “play” him like she would a cello, and then he “plays” Mia like a guitar, resulting in their first sexual experience together. (full context)
4:39 PM
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
8:12 PM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
In a flashback, Mia remembers that when she began to play the cello, she noticed how different it was from the band her Dad played in. While he... (full context)
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
...win the concerto competition, but privately, Mia knows she has very little experience playing the cello with other musicians. (full context)
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...different experience than playing solo in her bedroom. She also begins to play duets (and cello “duels”) with Simon in the hours after dinner. They engage in friendly competition, and though... (full context)
10:40 PM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...funerals. Mia chooses Mozart’s “Requiem.” Mia’s Mom says she would want Mia to play the cello at her and Mia’s Dad’s funeral, as if certain they would die together. (full context)
4:57 AM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
...to diffuse the tension by joking about Mia going to a local college to study cello, and about Adam’s band moving to New York. However, they both know that neither option... (full context)
5:42 AM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...and Adam jam on their guitars and sing. They invite her to join on her cello. She protests at first, saying the musical styles of the instruments don’t go together, but... (full context)
7:16 AM
Sacrifice and Choice Theme Icon
Music and Harmony Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Relationships Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
...pain of moving forward in her life. She pictures Teddy, Mom and Dad, and her cello, and squeezes Adam’s hand. Adam’s grip on her hand tightens, and he gasps—the first time... (full context)