So, a few weeks ago commenter Allie, of www.thegreenists.com and allielarkinwrites.com, asked me to be a part of the promotional blog tour for her brand new book Stay. I was super honored and very curious. When I was a wee lass, I was quite the reader. I was also kind of weird and hung out alone in my head a lot and those things probably relate but let's move on. Sometime between high school and motherhood, I sorta fell away from the book world and landed in the soft, cushy land of magazines. They speak to me in bullet points and short paragraphs which is about the level of attention span I have these days. Anyway, the last book I read was about 2 years ago and it was She's Come Undone and I bought it at the airport on Kauai and it had "super fun read" and "I laughed and cried" and shit on the cover along with a gigantic gold "O" telling me the mighty Oprah deemed it worthy but in reality it was NOT a fun read that made me laugh. It was actually kind of disturbing and depressing and I didn't really plan on crying in my beach cabana on vacation so that book screwed me and I haven't tried again. Anyway, not to spoil my review, which I have to apologize to Allie for RIGHT NOW because I've never written a review before so I hope I don't screw it up, but this book did NOT make me want to put rocks in my pockets and walk into the sea, although I did shed a tear or two.
That being said, here is my review.
By Allie Larkin
Stay centers around Savannah, or Van, a single woman who has just watched the love of her life marry her best friend. While they honeymoon in Europe, Van spends her time trying to forget him, her and them and move on with her life but she feels isolated and tossed aside. One drunken night, she decides a gigantic Slovakian dog will help her loneliness but the dog only creates more chaos. She takes him to the vet which sparks a friendship that opens Van up to new possibilities and a new sense of family. When they return from Europe, Van must face her past in order to embrace her future and she finds allies in the most unlikely places.
Just read this book. It's fun, funny, and the perfect thing to make your heart happy. I WOULD KNOW. At first, I mentally put it in the "chick lit" category, which is not bad but I don't tend to think as much about the characters and stuff but after a bit, I really saw that this was so much more than some pink book on shopping (I'm not judging, I own some) because it brought out issues like loss, grief, classism, betrayal and trust in a really sweet and realistic way. I found myself crying more than once because the situations mirrored some in my own life and those of my friends and I really enjoyed the fact that the author didn't shield them from complication. I found myself rooting for Van to do things I would have normally been against and I appreciated the turns the story took. If you don't believe me, I'm including an excerpt so read for yourself:
Diane let out a disgusted sigh and shook her head. “You look like a pumpkin, dear,” she said, flatly. Then she kissed me on the cheek. “I’ll see you back at the carriage house. We’ll have fun.” She gave me a broad smile and a nod like it was decided, and ran off to hug Janie.
I missed the way Diane’s eyes used to crinkle at the sides when she smiled. My mom nursed her through her face-lift and a few months later Diane nursed my mom through all the chemo.
I stood there, watching Diane brush a curl of hair off of Janie’s cheek. I wished for a way to clean out my head so I could just be happy for Janie instead of thinking about Peter, or about how even if I did get over Peter and found someone else to fall in love with, my mother would never be there to fix my hair at my wedding.
I felt a cold hand on my shoulder. “Van?” Peter said. “I need a favor.” I turned around and looked at him. His tie was loose and the top button of his shirt was undone. His cheeks and his nose were flushed bright red, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to have all that breathless excitement be about me instead of Janie. “Sure,” I said, trying not to make eye contact. I was certain that looking into Peter’s blue-gray eyes would break my heart.
“I know you’re enjoying the wedding, but . . .” He stopped and looked at Norman, who was slumped over the bar getting yelled at by the woman bartending. “Norman was supposed to go over and set up the room. But he’s not—” He tilted his head in Norm’s direction and raised his eyebrows. “Can you?” “No problem,” I said, hoping the relief at having an excuse to leave wasn’t oozing down my face.
“You’re the best, Van.” He grinned from ear to ear and slapped my back like we were locker room buddies. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” He handed me a set of keys attached to a silver Playboy bunny with a diamond eye. “Norman’s car,” he said, rolling his eyes. “The box is on the front seat. It should be self-explanatory.” He hugged me and rested his chin on my bare shoulder for a second. “You’re okay to drive, right?” His breath was hot. He pulled away to give me a good look, like he was making sure. “Okay,” I said, staring at his shiny new platinum wedding band. “Thanks, Van. I owe you one.” He gave me a quick peck on the cheek before running off. I felt the pressure of his lips on my face even after he’d disappeared into the crowd.
Janie and her dad had just started dancing to “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” Creepy. I took it as my cue to go. I ducked into the coatroom to grab the brown faux fur wrap Janie gave me as a bridesmaid’s gift, and made my escape to the parking lot.
I walked around the lot, clicking the door opener until the lights on a silver BMW lit up. The license plate read ladezman. When I put the key in the ignition, Michael Bolton blared from the speakers. I took out the CD and threw it on the backseat. Flipping through the CDs in the console, I found Boston. I slid it into the CD player and backed out of the parking space to the opening chords of “More Than a Feeling.” My mom and I were closet Boston fans. We kept all of our Boston records under her sweaters on the top shelf of her closet and listened to them only when we knew there was no chance of anyone coming over. I tore down the gravel road away from the Kittle House and made the tires squeal when I turned onto paved road. Normy’s car hugged the turns of the Saw Mill River Parkway as I made it from Chappaqua to Tarrytown in record time.