In most of the YA novels that we love, we tend to focus on the male protagonist that makes us swoon, or the couple whose love we root for above all else. I started to realize that there was almost always a best friend character who helps the protagonist. After all, where would Harry have been without Ron and Hermione? In that spirit, I would like to focus on another unsung friend — Kim from “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman. “If I Stay” and its companion book “Where She Went” are truly amazing and hands-down two of my favorite books (not just of YA, but period). I fell in love with Adam and rooted for Mia and Adam’s love all the way through. I also came to love and appreciate Kim, the kind of friend that quite honestly, we ALL need in our lives.
When Kim and Mia first met in sixth grade, everyone assumed that they would get along. At first they resented one another, until the day they had an actual fist fight. By the end of the fight, they were laughing and became friends just like everyone had predicted. From that point on, they were inseparable.
Name: Kim Schein
What She’s Like: Kim has long, thick, black curly hair that she wears in a single braid everyday. She is droll and quick-witted, with a sarcastic sense of humor — the kind where she has to say “just kidding’ to people who don’t know when she’s just joking. Kim has the distinction of being one of the few Jewish kids in her town in Oregon, somewhere near Portland. She is a fiercely loyal friend to Mia.
Why Her: When Kim hears about Mia’s accident she immediately goes to the hospital with her mother. While there, she does something uncharacteristic: she prays for Mia and asks her to live. She then goes to Portland to find Mia’s boyfriend Adam and give him the terrible news in person so he wouldn’t have to hear it on the phone. Together they head to the hospital, so he can be with Mia.
When neither of them is allowed to see Mia (only her grandparents have been allowed to visit), Kim helps sneak Adam in. This is especially poignant, since neither of them particularly cared for the other. They both shared their love of Mia, but they weren’t friends outside of her. But in that moment, Kim understood Adam’s desperate need to see Mia for what could’ve been the last time. This was the time for Mia’s friends to step in and support her (and her grieving grandparents, who had already lost so much).
Kim never wavers in her unconditional love, support and encouragement. She’s the truest of friends. Even in “Where She Went,” it’s obvious (mostly through photos and a few conversations) that her friendship with Mia continues to be steadfast and close as they develop from teens to adults. Every girl deserves a Kim!
Favorite Kim quotes:
“Cut it out!” Kim interjects. “Mia is still here. So I’m not losing it. And if I don’t lose it, you don’t get to!”
“Look, I accept Adam because you love him. And I assume he accepts me because you love me. If it makes you feel any better, your love binds us. And that’s enough. Me and him don’t have to love each other.”
“But after what’s happened today, that would be nothing. Even going to jail would be easy compared to losing you.”
“I do have a point to all this,” she continues. “There are like twenty people in that waiting room right now. Some of them are related to you. Some of them are not. But we’re all your family.” She stops now. Leans over me so that the wisps of her hair tickle my face. She kisses me on the forehead. “You still have a family,” she whispers.