Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stay by Allie Larkin

Stay by Allie Larkin
320 pages
Published June 2010 by Penguin Group
Source: the publisher and Pump Up Your Books Promotions

Savannah Leone is at a crossroads in her life.  Three years after her mother died of cancer, she is still trying to find a way to live with her grief.  And six years after literally falling head over heels in love with Peter Clarke on her first day of college, Savannah, "Van," is now standing up as the maid of honor at his wedding to her best friend, Janie.  So after the wedding, Van does what any of us would do in this situation - she anesthetizes herself with Kool-Aid and vodka and, inspired by a Rin-Tin-Tin marathon, she orders a German Shepherd puppy.  From Slovakia.  When the puppy arrives, Van finds she's gotten more than she bargained for; her puppy weighs in a 35-lbs already and only understands commands in Slovakian. 

When Van can't get "Joe" to stop tearing through her condominium, she assumes something must be wrong with him so she takes him to the vet.  Who, as it turns out, is one very attractive young vet who is more than willing to help Van learn how to care and train "Joe."

When Peter and Janie get back from their honeymoon, things get complicated.  Peter isn't sure he's cut out to be married and he misses his best friend.  Van isn't sure how she feels about Peter any more and her relationship with Janie is rocky.  When vet Alex catches Van trying to host a party she'd rather not be hosting for the newlyweds when she told him that she was sick, he turns his back on Van.  Finally Van decides it's time to grow up and make some changes.

"You were just overthinking it,"Alex said.  "Sometimes, you need to to let go to get everything to work."
As I so often do in books like this, I had a hard time buying into the instant relationship between Van and Alex.  I know these things have to be a bit rushed for the sake of the length of the book but it just never feels believable to me.  The shenanigans that ensued once Joe arrived were predictable and there were, perhaps, a few too many supporting characters, leaving some of them caricatures.

 I picked up this book expecting light fun but inside of thirty pages Larkin surprised me with the depth of the story.  Van's relationship with her mother and her grief over her mother's death are very touching.  Van's mother worked for Janie's mother, Diane, and Diane is having just as much trouble coming to grips with life without her best friend.  The interplay between Diane and Van is very well written.  Larkin's writing reminds me a lot of Katherine Center's and if you've been following this blog for very long, you know how much I enjoy her sense of humor.

Publisher's Weekly called "Stay" a "cute story, nicely told."  I'd have to say I agree; "Stay" is chick-lit with depth.


  1. I love the cover. Anything with a dog on its cover is adorable to me. I know what you mean about rushing into relationships in some books, it is hard to really believe it. But I would give this one a try just for doggie :)

  2. I do admit that your synopsis makes this book sound like a lot of fun, but sometimes I get annoyed when characters fall too quickly in love. I am going to have to think about this one. It may be a perfect light read for an easy day, so I am not going to discount it yet. Great review, you really piqued my curiosity!

  3. Thank you for this review. I think I would be irritated with Peter's shallow behaviour,(Alex, too). The relationship between Diane and Van sounds interesting, even if a little complicated with Diane being Janie's mother. Also, Diane's grief over the loss of her friend, although I guess from the cover and title of the book the dog and his role in the plot is an important element in the novel.

  4. I'd be happy for a dog who understands commands in slovakian, or in any language. I say "come" to my dog and he goes the other way. Really, the opposite direction. I say go away and he also goes away. Maybe I should try it in slovakian.

  5. Chick lit with depth is one of my favorite types of reading...this one I will be looking for!