Stay with Me by Paul Griffin

Synopsis: An urban romance that will capture your soul, break your heart, and restore your faith in the human spirit

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.

Review: I’ve never read any Paul Griffin’s books so I was really excited to discover one of his novels. Stay with Me is the story of Mack and Cece, two fifteen year olds teenagers.

Mack lives alone with his father, an inveterate alcoholic since his mother left when he was younger. Mack does not go to school and has a criminal record. Everyone sees him as a retarded person and he has the regrettable tendency not to look people in the eye. Cece meanwhile is a pretty good student but she also has her own problems: her older brother, Tony is planning to leave the family to join the army. Then she often has to deal with her alcoholic mother who is a little bit crazy and there is her best friend Marcy who is unbearable. All these people work in the same place: At Vic’s restaurant.

Mack is a touching character: honest and generous, he tries to help those who need it the most. He has a real gift: he can train aggressive dogs or those which may be beyond help. I loved the closeness he has with these animals, it was beautiful to see. It’s clear that he is an exceptional boy. But Mack is also excluded from the school system. He is a young man who is unable to control his rage and when someone irritates or provokes him, he loses his temper and becomes aggressive to the point that he presents a significant danger to others. Concerning Cece, she is mature for her age. Although these two young people have nothing in common, they get closer to each other and then they fall in love. Mack helps Cece to overcome her fear of dogs. Cece, in turn, helps Mack to control all the rage inside him until one day everything changes.

Until now, we could say that there is nothing really original in this young adult contemporary romance. And yet … Here we are far from the usual love stories where everything is perfect in a perfect world. Mack and Cece’s story is dark, sad, cruel but realistic. And although their love story did not particularly touch me (everything happens too quickly for my liking) I must say that I was very moved by what happened to them. In the second half of the book, some scenes are really poignant. We can feel all the emotions and the pain of these two young people. The alternation of points of view reinforces that.

I liked all the characters. The portraits that Paul Griffin draws are quite realistic. Mack, Cece, Vic, Tony, Carmella and even Marcy, they all suffered at one time or another in their lives and this is what makes them particularly interesting and endearing. Gradually we discover what happened to each of them. However I found regrettable that some of them were not further exploited by the author. I wanted to discover more about Vic who is the benefactor and Tony, the attentive older brother. I really liked Tony and what happens to him is really heartbreaking. I even felt sorry for Marcy (who I found really annoying).

This novel also evokes the war, more precisely the anguish faced by many families who see their children leaving their family house in order to fight in another country away from their homes. The author’s style is fluid. It is a novel that we can read in a few hours. A deeply touching story to discover.

3mon pseudo

4 thoughts on “Stay with Me by Paul Griffin

  1. I do want to read this one just b/c of the bully doggie on the cover and the fact that he trains aggressive dogs (although I also admit I could be quite critical of the facts presented…). Still, I think this a good enough read and hopefully the author will explore those other characters more at a later date.

    • Yes I liked this complicity between Mack and the dogs. It was sad to see someone who has such a gift to put himself in the worst trouble. I was however a little disappointed by the fact that the romance was not very well developed, everything happens too quickly (maybe because it’s a man who wrote it?). That’s why I put 3/5. But it’s a good read. It’s a beautiful story, it’s sad but very realistic. 🙂

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