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Stay with Me: A Novel Paperback – November 30, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the aftermath of a devastating hurricane, five children are discovered alone aboard a luxury boat in a Puerto Rican harbor. Adopted by different families, the children share a special bond, considering themselves siblings despite their mysterious origins. Now adults, Taina, Raymond, Adrian, Holly, and David have gathered at the home of David’s former girlfriend, Julia, for a long-overdue reunion. The house, a part of Julia’s family for generations, is an aging, isolated pile, the ideal setting for the theatrical revelations that are sure to follow. David, recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, believes their time together could not only help him heal but also reunite him with the beautiful and saintly Julia. The remaining siblings, all with their own agendas, must also decide whether to find out, with the help of science, if they are truly related. Be-careful-what-you-wish-for rings true as the siblings veer toward their breaking points, and the truth about their early lives is uncovered. Part mystery, part romance, this is an intriguing story that explores the meaning of family and the role of history in defining who we are. --Carol Gladstein


“Part mystery, part romance, this is an intriguing story that explores the meaning of family and the role of history in defining who we are.” (Booklist)

“[A]n engaging examination of family ties and identity, laced with suspense, intrigue, and romance….Barron beautifully paces this compelling novel, bounding back and forth in time, slowly unveiling little revelations along the way.” (Boston Globe)

Stay With Me accomplishes all we might ask of a novel. ...And it reminds readers what great pleasures and surprises are to be found inside such rare, fine, and atmospheric novels when we’re lucky enough to find them.” (Laura Kasischke, author of In a Perfect World)

“Full of intrigue and romance, STAY WITH ME is a deeply moving paean to loyalty, compassion and family—biological or not. ” (BookPage.com)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (November 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061650625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061650628
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,708,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hi! Thank you for visiting my page. I'm a mother, wife, step-mother, dog-mother and resident of Southern Connecticut. I love to hike, cook, do artsy stuff, and explore new places. I'm a very changeable and dynamic (as opposed to static) reader. I read novels, of course, but I also make sure I consume heavy doses of short stories and contemporary poetry. I flow with what's going on in my life, but if I had to come up with a short list of books that have deeply affected me, I would pick:
1. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery -- This book connects me to my grandmother and to my son in a way that is so simple yet so profound; it's like a gold watch to be passed down through the generations.
2&3. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- These books taught me that family dysfunction makes for great fiction! It also made me see that it can be funny. My motto as a writer is "if you can't hide the family skeletons, you might as well make them dance."
4. Endless Love by Scott Spencer -- Did you know this wasn't a cheesy, after-school-special type book? It's a literary heavy-weight and was a finalist for the National Book Award. My novel-in-progress is about about a college girl who goes to France and falls in love with an older man. The powerful, moving language of Endless Love has been incubating inside me (what Robert Olen Butler calls "the compost pile of the mind") since I first read it at age fourteen. As for biographical stuff, I was born in Puerto Rico but grew up mostly in Connecticut and in El Salvador (and for short periods in the Dominican Republic and the South of France.) I graduated from UConn and received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Degree from Florida International University in Miami. These days, I teach graduate students in the Western Connecticut Low-residency Master of Fine Arts Program.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In the aftermath of a hurricane, a luxury boat docks at an unused, unfinished marina in Puerto Rico. A blond woman and three Latino men slip off the boat unnoticed. When the boat is discovered by authorities, there are five babies and toddlers on board. The abandoned children are wearing beautiful clothing and look well cared for. An investigation is launched into the children's origins but no one ever comes forward to claim them. Each of them is eventually adopted into their own family but they retain a sense of family with each other, the Starfish Children, so named because of the faint green drawing of a starfish on each tiny hand. Despite the fact that they have no knowledge of their biological family and that they grew up in different families far apart, David, Taina, Holly, Adrian, and Raymond consider themselves siblings. So when David, now in his early thirties, is diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of brain cancer, the group cannot say no to his desire that they all reunite at his ex-girlfriend Julia's family cottage on one of the Thimble Islands off the coast of Connecticut.

What none of the others know is that David's tumor has started causing him to have flashbacks to the time before the hurricane and he wants them to dig into their past and finally know the truth about their origins. David wants to give each of them a solid history like the one that Julia, his ex-girlfriend and the woman he is determined to marry, has. Each of the Starfish Children has emotional baggage as a result of their unknown past and as David faces his own mortality, he needs to help everyone confront the demons.
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Format: Paperback
This is a sweeping saga of a family that is condensed into one story. The former five orphans are connected together due to a tragic event that created a bond that goes deeper than blood. Three brothers and two sisters find themselves reunited when one of them learns that they have only a short time left to live. I was worried at first that this might turn out to be a story full of drama fit for a soap opera. Instead what I found was a intricate character study into the lives of a unusual family that defines itself not by blood but by love.

I found myself being pulled into the story and not wanting it to end. At first I thought it would be difficult to keep track of everyone because of the multiple characters in the story. However each character is so distinct that I was able to find each voice to be unique. Also because only one character (David) has his story told in first person, it was easier to follow the narrative. The mystery of how the five got together keeps the story going as it is not revealed until the very end. The reader as well as the characters are kept in suspense, allowing for great depth of the personalities to be put on full display instead. It almost becomes an afterthought because the relationships of the family is more important. If there's anything that I could complain about is that I felt that some characters didn't get enough attention as others did. While their personalities are easy to distinguish, I just didn't feel as if I got to know them as well as others.

Overall, I found this to be a fascinating read. It's a wonderful story about the power of love and family. Family does not necessarily mean that you have to be connected by blood.
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Format: Paperback
If the blurb for this book had been different, I might have enjoyed it more. Instead, it made me expect something the book was not particularly interested in delivering. "Thirty years ago, five toddlers were found alone in a luxury boat...after a devastating hurricane. No one knew who they were or where they came from." One of them gets cancer which triggers flashbacks of before they were found and he wants to figure out where they came from, so he gets them all together at his ex-girlfriend's house to figure it out. Now, from that information, I expected for the book to be a description of their investigation, with clues revealed along the way that prompt some kind of emotional catharsis. Instead, the narrative mainly focuses on David's diagnosis with cancer, his lame attempts to get his ex-girlfriend back, and everyone's messed-up intimacy issues. No real revelations come until the last 80 pages of the 369-page book; however, and it is only then that the book starts to get interesting. It isn't nearly compelling enough to make up for the time I spent slogging through the first three quarters, but I did read that last part in one sitting, and way, way past my bedtime as well. If you are a fan of emotional drama and family interactions, you might enjoy the whole thing, but if you are more interested in the mystery of the abandoned children, read the prologue and then skip to Part III.
One other note: The book is written in the first person when told from David's perspective, but third person omniscient when focusing on anyone else. From a few of the errors in this ARC, I think the author had originally written the entire thing first person, but alternated narrators. The switching back and forth was probably too jarring, and it was a good call to switch to third, but I could also have done without David's inner musings as well. It doesn't make him any more of a sympathetic character and it's still pretty jarring.
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