Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 2284
What It Means to Stay
Overall rating
Writing Style
"Stay with me," I say, wishing I'd said it to my sister but also wanting to hear it from him.

"Stay with you?" he asks.

"No," I say. "You've messed up the pronoun."

Leila is the product of her father's second marriage. Her parents are still happily married, and she is their only child. She has two half-sisters from her father's first marriage, but she is not as close to them as she would like to be. Rebecca and Clare were in their twenties with Leila was born, so even though she is now approaching the age of seventeen, Leila still feels like a kid in their presence.

Even more remarkable than her parents' loving marriage is Leila's other source of adult support: Janie, her father's first wife. The book begins with Leila's memories of Janie, and the loss she felt when Janie passed away. It continues with the revelation that Rebecca has committed suicide, causing those familiar feelings of loss and regret to rise to the surface but in a new way. As Leila attempts to figure out what would cause Rebecca to do such a thing, she makes startling discoveries about her family members - and herself. What she thought she knew may not be true at all.

"There's such a gap between the images I carry in my mind and what can actually be found in the world."

Among many other things, Leila learns that nothing valuable is easy. Her life is as complex as that of any real person, and the book seamlessly weaves together various plotlines that touch Leila's life, with each given appropriate weight and attention. In Freymann-Weyr's best novel to date, the author has created characters who are intelligent, each in his or her own way, and realistically flawed. The first-person narrative is poignant and poetic, offering many memorable scenes and exchanges of dialogue.

"For me, they are one more thing that belongs in someone else's story."

This book is something to savor and share. Leila's story with stay with readers long after they finish the last page. Highly recommended to adults and older teens.
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