Stay by Allie Larkin
My rating: 5 stars
Overview (from amazon): Savannah "Van" Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke ever since she literally fell head over heels in front of him on the first day of college. Now, six years later, instead of standing across from him at the altar, Van's standing behind her best friend Janie as maid of honor, trying to mask her heartache and guilt as Janie marries the only man Van's ever loved. Before, Van's mother died, she told Van never to let Peter go, but as the couple exchanges vows, Van wonders if her fairy tale ending will ever come true.
After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet. The pocket-size puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy, hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak, and Van is at the end of her rope... until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what.
Van affectionately names her dog Joe, and together, they work to mend the pieces of Van's shattered heart. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Joe's vet is a rugged sweetheart with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Van is forced to decide just how much she's willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she ever wanted, proving that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it can get better.
I'd heard of Stay before - the author is a blogger, and when it first came out, I saw dozens of reviews about it - all saying good things - but for some reason or another I never got around to reading it. As I was setting up my kindle (a Christmas gift - much more on this later!), I stumbled across Stay, and decided to give it a try. It sounded sweet - a girl loving her dog to get over a man.
Holy shit. This book was phenomenal.
In fact, I didn't even pick up another book for three days after I finished reading it. I was still so wrapped up in the story, at one point I remember thinking, this story was so good, it might have ruined me for all other books.
The writing pulled me in, and kept me engaged throughout. The author paints such great pictures with her words - funny or uncomfortable, I always felt like I was right there next to Van, the whole time. Let me give you a couple of examples. (Although since I did read this on my kindle I don't know page numbers!)
"I knew he was blushing, and I knew he knew I was blushing. It was the best kind of uncomfortable there is."
"...I wanted to cry, hard and loud. I wanted to throw that kind of tantrum kids throw when they fall off their bike and skin their elbow and their mom is all out of Spider-Man Band-Aids. I wanted to scream and cry and have someone carry me home and tuck me in bed and press the back of a cool smooth hand to my forehead and kiss my cheek and tell me it was all going to be okay."
I think after the Band-Aid passage is when I actually put my kindle down, and took a deep breath - that description literally took my breath away...because I knew what she meant.
This was the theme throughout the book. I haven't experienced a lot of what Van went through in the story - losing a parent, being in love with your best friend's husband, even getting a dog - but it didn't matter, because I knew these characters, right from the start. I found myself smiling and laughing, or getting irritated with the characters (at one point I even screamed in frustration, at which point Ben advised me to put the book down and go to sleep), because they were mine. I felt like the story was written just for me to enjoy, because it had so many things I loved in it.
I don't want to give anything away, so I won't talk about the ending, but there was a quote near the end (at least I think so - no page numbers can be frustrating!), and it was like Van and I had the same brain.
"I looked down at the kitchen table. It was old and nicked. Mug marks and water rings, scratches, and indents. It had history."
She was talking about a table, but I can't get that quote out of my head. Those few sentences? That's what I want out of life. I want marks on me from battles I've fought, and wrinkles (or water rings) to show how long I've been around. I want my history to be something I tell to others and pass on someday.
I feel like this review is a little all over the place, but I have so much joy bursting out of me after this book that I'm going to obnoxiously push it on anyone I know. (This includes you).
So tell me - have you read Stay? Did you have the same I'm-in-love-I'm-in-love-and-I-don't-care-who-knows-it reaction? (Points if you can tell me what movie that's from). If you haven't read it - what are you waiting for?
Happy hump day!