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.
From award-winning writer Paul Griffin, Stay with Me is both heartbreaking and uplifting, filled with characters (both dog and human) that will forever change the way you look at the world.
Stay With Me by Paul Griffin is one of those novels that you never quite see coming, but it's a welcomed surprise!
Mack and Cece are two very intriguing teenagers, each standing on the opposite sides of life. Mack is a hardened young man who's dropped out of high school to take on this world alone. Griffin could have portrayed him as a guy who's a hardened 'bad-boy' type due to previous experiences in his life, but Mack has a sensitivity that makes him the most lovable guy. What redeems him totally is his connection with dogs, particularly pitbulls. In someways, Mack and the pitbull have profound symbolism, in that, pitbulls often have horrible reputations of being rabidly ferocious, but what we overlook is that pitbulls are trained, just like any other dog, to become that way through the treatment they are subjected to. The same is true for Mack, and you can see his sensitivity rising even as the part of him threatening to destroy everything remains. Cece, on the other hand, is a high achiever, trying her hardest to obtain a slot at a prestigious high school. She can hardly believe him when he expresses his awkwardly lovely interest in her. When Cece and Mack come together it's a fusion of intriguing awkwardness, and two people trying their hardest to stay above ground. It was wonderful to observe their discussions for the future, and discoveries.
I think Griffin may have become one of my favorite writers, what with his eye for detail and fluid lyricism. That alone gives this story a beautiful surrealism that is quite fresh. His setting is grounded in a pulsing urban atmosphere, but it's chock full of beauty if your willing to open up and peek in. Each character is wonderfully flawed, and I loved their varying points of view. Great tone and pacing. There are places in this novel that are so heartbreaking, especially as it crescendos towards the end. It's hard for a novel to make me cry, and for once, I wanted to. I wanted to fight for Mack and Cece, fight the powers that persisted in staunching their lives. But, it's a novel that when all is said and done, still has hope despite of all the challenges. I believe I may revisit this title again this year, God Willing.
Bare in mind: It contains depictions of violence, profanity, and sexual content.
I give Stay With Me by Paul Griffin 5 out of 5 cups of Earl Grey, and perhaps a few treats for your pup.