If you go into this book expecting not to cry, you are a fool. If you actually watch this movie and don’t cry, you have no soul. That is how heart-wrenching “If I Stay” is. Both the book and the movie take you on a torturous journey into Mia’s past to show her back-story, and then tear your heart out when you realize these were just memories and she is still in the hospital.
Just when you start to get wrapped up in this beautiful love story, you are smacked in the face with a dose of reality when Mia reminds you that she is still comatose. This is a cycle that happens over and over again.
Be forewarned that SPOILERS are definitely ahead for both the book and the movie. These are the 4 ways the movie beautifully portrayed the story in the book, and 4 things that left you upset that they missed the mark.
Let’s start with 4 Pleasant Surprises:
4. Replica Ceiling
In the movie, Adam printed out an exact replica of the ceiling where she would be auditioning for Julliard on multiple sheets of paper. In his mind, if she kept looking at it, it wouldn’t be so intimidating the day of her audition.
With Adam not being supportive at times with Mia wanting to go to Julliard, for him to go out of his way and do this for her said a lot. This romantic gesture was his way of saying he supports her decision to audition and that he is behind her.
This scene is nowhere to be found in the book. It was a beautiful way to illustrate how much he cares about her and how much he wants her to succeed.
3. Adam, Adam, and More Adam
In the book, you really only visualize Mia and Adam’s relationship as a whole. Just little blurbs here and there on how they fell in love, cute memorable moments they shared, and the struggles they are going through as a couple. The reader never really gets to know much about Adam outside of their relationship.
The movie really took Adam as a character and ran with it. You find out that his home life is very unstable. His father walked out on them and his Mom seemed nonexistent as well. Adam even ran into his father years later and his dad didn’t even recognize him. That’s how messed up his family was.
Adam’s family issues make him have insecurities with both Mia and their relationship. Before Julliard was on the table, Mia and Adam made a plan to move in with each other after she graduated. Once Adam found out about Julliard he eventually admitted that he was mad at her for breaking that plan, and that she was just making empty promises like his family used to.
2. Acceptance Letter
In the book, you don’t know at the end if Mia actually was accepted into Julliard or not. But the book gives more hints that she probably got in. After her audition the judges talked to her about how it’s been a long time since they had an “Oregon Country Girl” and one judge actually clapped after her performance finished. All these little bits made her more confident that she was definitely getting accepted.
Right at the end of the movie Adam is pleading with her to stay. He will do anything. Just to make sure there isn’t anything else to consider, Adam went back to Mia’s house to get her letter from Julliard while she was in the hospital. The letter would decide whether she got in or not and everyone knew the letter was supposed to arrive at any moment. He brought it back to the hospital to open it and read it to her. She got in.
1. Adam Wrote Her A Song
In the book, one of the first things Adam says to Mia in the hospital is “Don’t make me write a song.” He had made it clear in the past that he was the type of guy that wrote sad songs. So if she wanted a song written about her, Mia would have to cheat on him or something. Who would have guessed that “or something” would be this extreme, but in the book he never actually writes a song.
However in the movie, once Adam finally sits down to chat with her, he has already written a song and the lyrics are beautiful. As Mia is listening to it she still can’t believe he actually wrote her one. While he is playing, she goes through everything that everyone has said to her within the past 24 hours, along with clips of her family, and it is the song that is her undoing.
She decides to stay.
Now lets take a look at 4 things that were pretty disappointing:
4. Scheme To See Mia
In the movie, Kim makes a quick decision to distract the bodyguard in front of the ICU so Adam can sneak by and run to see Mia. This plan fails miserably and is over before you know it. Even though Adam made it to Mia for a brief second, he wasn’t able to touch her and was taken away by security immediately.
Now in the book, there is much more of an elaborate scheme.
First, Kim and Adam go into some storage closets to see if they can find scrubs and disguise themselves as nurses or doctors. (Typical Movie Scenarios) They can’t find any and realize it is a stupid idea anyway, so Adam comes up with another brilliant plan. Adam’s band was supposed to play with this huge band called “Bikini.” Bikini’s lead singer is Brooke Vega, and she is pretty famous. Adam asked her to come to the hospital to distract the staff so he could sneak by and get to Mia.
She comes to the hospital and makes a scene by singing her butt off, but it still isn’t enough for Adam to get by everyone to actually see Mia. When he finally does get beside her, the same thing happens and security takes him away. This might not seem like a big deal, but it showed a lot of comradery amongst artists in the music industry. Even though Brooke and Adam had only just met, she was willing to help out her fellow musician.
3. Car Crash Scene
In the movie, the crash scene missed the mark. Once Mia “wakes up” and is looking at the crash, and looking around for her family, she only finds herself lying there and then is too distracted by that to find her family around her. Her dad actually makes it to the hospital and died there, where as her mom was DOA. (Dead on Arrival)
In the book, it is a lot more graphic. Mia finds her dad first and describes what she sees as “gray chunks of cauliflower” all around her him, which are pieces of his brain on the asphalt. Then she sees her mom whose lips are turning blue already and the whites of her eyes have turned red. You find our later she died from immediate cardiac arrest.
Mia knew both of her parents were dead even before she found herself lying in the snow. There is a moment later in the book where her mom says that her ideal way to die would be for her and Mia’s dad to go together at the same time. So even though the movie gave you a little bit of hope that her Dad might live, for them to actually die together in the book was poetic and should have been considered for the movie.
2. Mia’s Best Friend, Kim
Kim and Mia’s friendship in the movie was a little understated. They did have their sarcastic conversations about being girlfriends who have boyfriends in college. But Kim always reminded Mia not to become one of “those girls” who talks only about their boyfriends. In the movie, Kim was still that friend that seemed to keep Mia grounded, but she is also so much more.
For starters their friendship began out of hatred for each other. It wasn’t until they actually get into a fistfight at school that they realized they had more in common than they thought. Mia considered quitting cello at one time, but Kim showed her the cellist from Nirvana and told Mia’s parents about a music camp that would help serious musicians get more experience. Mia fell in love with the idea and never had doubts about playing the cello again.
Even on the day of the accident Kim knew that Mia would want Adam there. So she personally went to where Adam was having his concert and told him the news about Mia in person. Kim and Adam both came back to the hospital together and she helped him get through it. Kim is a way better friend than the movie lead on.
1. It Isn’t All About Adam
As much as it was great to get more of Adam in the movie, the book is so much more than just their relationship. You actually learn a lot about Mia before Adam even came into the picture.
The book is just as much about how much Mia loves her family and their experiences together. It explains how Mia was right there for Teddy’s birth and how her grandfather actually loved his sons’ lyrics, how Teddy played the drums just like their dad, and how Gran believed in angels that looked over you. The book also describes that Mia went to a very prestigious music camp every summer for 4 years and earned a solo with a professional orchestra because she was so good.
The movie made it seem like this whole story was mainly about the love between a guy and girl, when really it was more about the love between a girl and her family as well as her love for Adam.