Bookmarks Issue: 

737263.pngPaul Griffin, the author of the award-winning young adult novel The Orange Houses (2009), also trains dogs and has worked with at-risk and special-needs teenagers.

The Story: For 15-year-old Céce and Mack, coworkers at a restaurant, it’s love at first sight. Or almost. Superficially, the teenagers seem to be cut from similar cloth, both products of single, alcoholic parents living on the wrong side of the tracks in New York. But in other ways, they come from startlingly different worlds. Mack is a dyslexic, high school dropout with an abusive father, anger issues, and a police record. Céce, by contrast, has a loving (if dysfunctional) mother and is a "good girl" with academic aspirations. But soon, the two are spending every minute together, planning for a better future—until an act of violence threatens not only their love for each other but also the core of their very existence.
Dial. 304 pages. $16.99. ISBN: 9780803734487

KQG, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books 4 of 5 Stars
"This tender portrayal of a doomed romance is utterly engrossing, drawing readers in with engagingly authentic dialogue and fully realized characters. … Mack and Cece alternate narrating chapters, giving readers the chance to know them both as individuals and as a couple, and they’re both endearing in their own right."

Sunday Tazmanian 4 of 5 Stars
"From its opening paragraph, this wonderful novel for young adults promises searing honesty and gut-wrenching heartache—and rarely has a book delivered with such desperate and terrible beauty upon its promise. A truly remarkable piece of writing that stays with the reader long after the last page has been turned." Dani Colvin

VOYA 4 of 5 Stars
"Realistic fiction with realistic underlined. This book will find its way to the ‘favorites’ shelf right next to books like S.E. Hinton’s classic The Outsiders." Lona Trulove

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The plot moves fast—a plus for today’s time-challenged teenage readers—but occasionally the narration feels too slick for the story. … Griffin gracefully answers questions and solves mysteries, leaving us with hope and a smile without making things falsely shiny and bright." Cathi Hanauer

Critical Summary

Although Stay With Me, with its themes of first love, family dysfunction, and redemption, is aimed at the coming-of-age crowd, readers of all ages will be captivated by this heartbreaking tale. Told from alternating, first person perspectives by two engaging narrators that are, at times, full of very realistic contradictions, the novel explores the darker sides of relationships. The story benefits from Griffin’s work with troubled teens and dogs; he captures the subtleties of first love and heartbreak perfectly while describing dog-handling scenes that will fascinate even noncanine lovers. The New York Times Book Review noted some unbelievable actions and subplots, but, along with the other critics, praised the novel for its tender look at struggling teens and love gone wrong.