Stay with me by Paul Griffin (Text)
PB RRP $19.95
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie
Stay with me is about Mack and Céce (pronounced chee-chee), two teenagers from an unnamed American town. Written with gritty realism, this is definitely a book for more mature young adults, preferably over fifteen. Themes include sex, violence (some quite extreme), alcoholism and juvenile detention. Things are not all grim however, as it is also a story about love, friendship and forgiveness.
The book is written in first person, alternating between the points of view of Mack and Céce. Mack has problems. When gets angry he loses control and can be violent. However when Mack is around dogs he is at his best. He especially loves pit bulls and is talented at training those who have been badly treated in the past. Cece does well at school but has problems of her own. Her mother drinks too much and her brother is going overseas with the army and she is worried he will get killed.
Mack and Céce meet and the attraction is instant. They tell each other all their secrets and are very happy. However the reader knows it will not last as there is a hint in the introduction that someone does 'something stupid'. The tension builds to a climax which, even though it is expected, is quite shocking. The rest of the story explores how the two characters manage to eventually go on from this.
The book covers one hundred and two days, from Mack and Cece's first meeting, to the resolution of their relationship. Chapters are headed, for example, 'the twenty-third day'. The voices of both characters are strong and realistic and this is the strength of the book. There is hope at the end that this very flawed main character will overcome his demons.
(Dog lovers will especially respond to the canine characters, but prepare for some sadness with one of them!)