Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Stay With Me

Title: Stay With Me
Author: Paul Griffin
Publisher: Text Publishing
Published: September 8th 2011
Source: Text Publishing for review

Fifteen-year-olds Cece and Mack didn't expect to fall in love. She's a sensitive A student; he's a high school dropout. But soon they're spending every moment together, bonding over a rescued dog, telling their secrets, making plans for the future. Everything is perfect. Until. Until. Mack makes a horrible mistake, and in just a few minutes, the future they'd planned becomes impossible. In this stark new reality, both of them must find meaning and hope in the memories of what they had, to survive when the person they love can't stay.

A hundred and two days is the time Céce and Mack have together. Being a journey about heartbreak, passionate love, friendship and trust, where Stay With Me will take us, we don't know. Mack Morse works at Vic's Too with his good friend, Anthony, and when Tony prepares to leave for the army, he enlists Mack with the job of taking care of his smart, younger sister, Céce. Sparks fly, but it's a shame that Mack is a high school dropout with anger management issues, a criminal record and a problem with looking people in the eye... This novel is incredibly emotional, realistic and moving, and I have no doubt that this emotion will stay with you for a very long time.

Mack has always had a gift with dogs and can render them harmless in a matter of seconds. Being bitten on the face as a little girl, Céce is terrified of them until Mack rescues a battered pitbull and teaches both girls how to love.  While both are hesitant to be involved with each other in the beginning, a mutual understanding quickly escalates into full blown love. They understand each other in a way no one else can and know just what to do to comfort the other. I found their relationship to be so beautiful. Whether Mack is buying Céce cheap but thoughtful gifts, whether they're making love or whether their hearts are breaking because of terrible circumstances, it all hit me like a ton of bricks in the very best way. Griffin's writing is superb and always conveys all of the emotion he intends to. Just stunning.

One of the novel's best attributes is the surrounding air of mystery. Things that may seem insignificant or that don't make sense are explained as the story progresses through flashbacks. These revelations are extremely powerful and meaningful, no matter how minor the subject matter, and I enjoyed going on this learning curve immensely. The characters are developed very well and each revealed layer of their background only makes us more sympathetic or adoring. One moment can change your life forever, but despite that, you can move on and become a better person with these experiences - that is the main message of the novel, and the plot in which this message is conveyed is heartbreaking. Plot wise, I refuse to divulge anything! I will only give you some sound advice: Grab some tissues and prepare to cry for most of the novel's second half.

For days after finishing this book my heart ached, and it continues to do so every single time I think about it. While the conclusion is in no way tragic or horrible, it is open-ended, bittersweet and will make you cry bucket loads anyway. Perhaps it's the genuine love and sacrifice? Or perhaps anger at the unjustness of the situation? Either way, Stay With Me will move you and you will hopefully take something away from this truly magnificent story. These characters will embed themselves in your heart and stay in your thoughts for a long time to come. An absolutely brilliant novel by Paul Griffins, Stay With Me is a must read.
Alright guys, I'm going to go and cry in my little corner again. This reminds me of when I read Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma and felt like doing nothing for days *sighs* Maybe thinking about Céce Vaccuccia will make me feel better... Literal translation? Chick pea little cow. HA!

Find Paul on Goodreads, Facebook and his website.
Buy Stay With me from Amazon, The Book Depository, Barnes & Noble and Borders

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