Stay With Me
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Dial (September 8, 2011)
Source: copy from the author in exchange for a 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.
Oh. My. Goodness. This book had me laughing and crying all at once. It was so believable. I don't even know where to start...
CeCe and Mark are great. But then, so are Vic, Tony and CeCe's mom. Every character was so well written. I felt like I knew them-- like CeCe and Mack could have been my students. All of the characters are broken in some way, which makes them that much more amazing. They all deal with real issues and have to learn to live with their imperfections. It was so honest and heart breaking.
Mack has a record and has dropped out of school at 15. CeCe is a genius with a lunatic alcoholic for a mother. Together, they are to epitome of young, star-crossed lovers.
Let's start with why Mack is amazing. He's honest. He loves dogs. Despite what others' think, he is gifted. He has a loser father and a mom that has been AWOL since he was 8 or so. He is stereotyped by most of the people he meets and labeled "retarded" because he has a neurological processing disorder. Oh how my heart breaks for this kid because I knew a boy like this once. Reading this story was like reading his life story. Tragic and full of hope at the same time.
Then there is CeCe... she's a riot. Brutally honest and insecure. Plus she has a love of cheesecake that I can relate to. Her favorite book to movie adaptation is The Outsiders, which makes her awesome. Her relationship with her mother is "different." The mom seems like the child at times, which leaves CeCe having to take care of her. I know that child too.
I could talk about the plot, but it's complicated. Every character has a vital role in the story. On the surface you think the story is about CeCe and Mack (and it is), but it's more than that. Tony's role is HUGE-- and heartbreaking. I really am having a hard time finding words for this review. It was so beautiful.
Obviously, I think everyone should read this one. That should be a given at this point. Why should you read it? Why break out of your normal genre(s) of choice to pick up this book? The answer is simple. It's a beautiful story of love, loss, and redemption. I wish I had enough copies of the book so I could loan it out to everyone I know. But, I only have one and I'm guarding it with my life. This book will be a treasure for one of "those kids" that are hard to reach. I know I'll get them hooked with this book.