My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 8th 2011 by Dial
Synopsis From Goodreads:
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.
First half of the book:
When I first started reading Stay With Me I had a difficult time with the language and writing. It was just unusual to me and I was a little put off by it. But the more I read, the more I got accustomed to it. It's definitely a bit different than what I am used to.
I had a hard time connecting and relating to the entire cast of characters. The 2 main characters, Mack and CeCe, are both 15 but are at completely different places in their lives. Mack is a dropout and has a learning disability (and anger issues). CeCe is a great student who is trying to get into a gifted program at school. CeCe's brother Anthony introduces them after he enlists in the military, hoping that they would connect and help each other while he was away. Even though on the surface Mack and CeCe have nothing in common, they had a mutual interest in Anthony. That was enough to spark an attraction and to begin a relationship.
This is where I had a hard time enjoying Stay With Me. Mack and CeCe's relationship progressed so quickly, and they became sexually active way too fast for my liking. And for being only 15, they had no problems having sex in random places - the rooftop, the park, up against a wall in an alley. Oh, yes they did. If that isn't enough, CeCe's mom figures out they are having sex, but instead of talking to her daughter about safe sex or maybe slowing down with Mack, she offers the kids the basement apartment so they don't have to worry about finding a safe place to have sex. That is just so wrong. (I also had issues with CeCe's best friend, who told CeCe that it was okay to give a guy a BJ on the first date. Really?) It must be the mother in me that finds this type of behavior offensive and unnecessary in YA. I think it sends the wrong message by seeming like it is normal and expected for such young people to have a sexual relationship.
Second half of the book:
About halfway through the book is the life-altering 'event' that changed everything. This was a real turning point for me. It was after this event that I starting feeling for the characters and I began to really enjoy the story. The situations that the 2 main characters find themselves in are more realistic. And their actions in these situations really propel the story forward. I also felt that this was when I got to know the characters very well. I could really see that Mack and CeCe did not have the experience or maturity to deal with everything that was thrown at them. This becomes painfully obvious as the story progresses and gets darker and more hopeless.
This story is heartbreaking, emotional, and bittersweet, and I was happy with the final outcome. Anything different would have been unrealistic, so I applaud the author for having the guts to write a story with an ending like this. I would recommend this book for an older teen reader due to the language, sexual situations, and some extreme violent content.
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