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Stay With Me Hardcover – April 24, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up-For 16-year-old Leila Abranel, the suicide of a much older half sister sparks a journey of discovery as she tries to figure out why. Her family is complicated-Rebecca and Clare, her father's daughters from his first marriage, are more than 20 years her senior. Leila was close to their mother, who has recently died. All three girls have struggled with dyslexia, and Leila is not sure where she fits into the world of the adults around her. Devastated by Rebecca's suicide, Leila's parents throw themselves into their work and go to Poland to be part of a team building a teaching hospital, leaving Leila with Clare. The teen begins her quest to understand Rebecca's death. In doing so, she meets 31-year-old Eamon and they fall in love. Because he does not date teenagers, he leaves her alone but they both find that this does not lessen their attraction for one another and eventually they decide that they can manage the age difference. Leila does not find all the answers she is searching for; instead she finds that some things and some people are unknowable. Freymann-Weyr explores complex relationships in a manner that is both sensitive and compelling. Leila's growing maturity as she deals with the changes in her life make for a sophisticated and interesting coming-of-age tale.-Janet Hilbun, Texas Woman's University, Denton, TX
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 10-12. Leila Abranel's dyslexia makes both books and situations difficult to read, and her life is full of opaque relationships. At 16, she is the youngest daughter of a father who has two daughters from a previous marriage, both 20-some years older than Leila. Along with their mother, these other Abranels, Clare and Rebecca, are mysterious and intriguing to Leila, pieces of a family with an interesting history that doesn't seem to be hers. Then Rebecca commits suicide, and Leila is determined to find out why. She goes to live with Clare, and begins a search to learn what happened to Rebecca--and what will happen to her. Freyman-Weyr's beautiful My Heartbeat (2002) also dealt with the complications of family dynamics, but where that book had an immediate energy, this first-person narrative is leisurely, even as Leila pushes hard against the waves of memory and loss. Elegant and sophisticated, this is a young- adult novel only because of Leila's age; almost everyone else in the book is an adult--even Leila's lover, a 31-year-old television writer. Like Leila, readers often feel awkwardness coupled with anticipation in the adult world, and capturing this duality is one of the book's many strengths. Like Andreas Steinhofel's Center of the World (2005), this novel pushes the markers of YA fiction onward and upward. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
There is sex, but it's not graphic, and the focus is on the emotional aspects rather than the physical. There is also a romantic relationship between a 17-year-old and a 31-year-old, but it was so well done that I didn't actually disapprove (this is definitely something that I would almost certainly disapprove of in real life!). But perhaps it's not the best book to recommend to younger teens. Then again, Leila's process for making decisions, whether sexual or otherwise, is so wonderfully healthy that perhaps this is the perfect book for younger teens! She has some wonderful adults in her life, she goes to them for advice when she isn't sure what to do or how to do something, and they help her figure out her own mind.
(Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at an American Library Association conference. I was not required to write a positive review. Thank you, Houghton Mifflin!)
In the midst of the mourning and grief, Leila's parents decide that it might be best if they went ahead as planned and moved to Poland for a year, only with a slight change. Since Leila is only 16 she was going to be staying with Rebecca while they were gone but now they must ask her other sister, Clare, if she could take care of her while they are gone.
Leila never really felt like she fit in with her other sisters but she felt like she fit more with Rebecca because Clare was more the smart, workaholic type. Leila is dyslexic and so has always had trouble fitting in and feeling like she belongs but once she moves in with Clare, they start to learn new things about the other and form a close, sisterly bond.
Raphael also helps take care of Leila while her parents are in Poland. His mother was married to their uncle before she met his father and so he is their semi-cousin. Raphael and Clare once had a relationship but it didn't work for reasons that weren't really mentioned. Shortly after Leila moves in with Clare, Clare breaks up with her boyfriend and then once again starts a relationship with Raphael, forming a type of family for Leila to rely on.
While, Leila has tried to move on from her sister's death, she still feels like she is missing something and decides that she should try and find the reason Rebecca killed herself. In her quest for answers she gets a job at Cafe Acca, the last place she saw Rebecca. In a way Rebecca led Leila right to Eamon. Eamon is a 31 year old writer for TV shows and he immediately takes an interest in Leila, not knowing that she is only 16. Throughout the book Leila and Eamon go through many different phases and finally settle on dating even if other people think it is wrong of them.
In the end, Leila realizes that maybe Rebecca didn't really have a reason for killing herself, maybe she just gave up. She knows that what Rebecca did was selfish and inexcusable. Rebecca was only thinking of herself, not the people she would be leaving behind. Leila finally learns that she doesn't really need to know everything about her sister but that in her own way Rebecca led Leila right to her love, if not her great love then her great love for now.
Stay With Me is a story about coping with the sudden death of someone you love and how maybe you don't get over that, maybe you just find new ways to shape your life around it.
I loved her relationship with Eamon. Yes, he was significantly older, but he waited until she was 17, insisted that he met her guardians, and made sure that he took things slowly so she knew he was not just after one thing. While her ex-boyfriend thought Lelia was stupid, she really was very mature for her age. I saw a lot of reviews saying the relationship was "icky" or "pedophile". For one, she is 17. That is the age of consent and pedophilia is being attracted to undeveloped bodies, not 17 year olds. And it was not portrayed as being "icky" at all. He really cared about her and the author portrayed it that way.
It was by no means a perfect book, after the 15th mention of her dyslexia I wanted to yell out that I got it already and while the writing was mostly very good, there were awkwardly worded passages that could have been better.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Leila is the youngest of three girls, two of which are her half sisters that she has idolized for years.Read more
"Stay with you?" he asks.
"No," I say.Read more