Stay with Me

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Overview

An urban romance that will capture your soul, break your heart, and restore your faith in the human spirit

Fifteen-year-olds Cece and Mack didn't expect to fall in love. She's a sensitive A student; he's a high school dropout. But soon they're spending every moment together, bonding over a rescued dog, telling their secrets, making plans for the future. Everything is perfect. Until. Until. Mack makes a horrible mistake, and in just a few minutes, the future they'd planned ...

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Stay With Me

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Overview

An urban romance that will capture your soul, break your heart, and restore your faith in the human spirit

Fifteen-year-olds Cece and Mack didn't expect to fall in love. She's a sensitive A student; he's a high school dropout. But soon they're spending every moment together, bonding over a rescued dog, telling their secrets, making plans for the future. Everything is perfect. Until. Until. Mack makes a horrible mistake, and in just a few minutes, the future they'd planned becomes impossible. In this stark new reality, both of them must find meaning and hope in the memories of what they had, to survive when the person they love can't stay.

From award-winning writer Paul Griffin, Stay with Me is both heartbreaking and uplifting, filled with characters (both dog and human) that will forever change the way you look at the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a narrative spanning 102 days, Mack and CéCe, co-workers at a restaurant and co-narrators of the story, are set up by CéCe's brother, Anthony, and slowly hit it off. CéCe is heartbroken when Anthony joins the army, leaving her alone with their alcoholic mother, whose condition Griffin (The Orange Houses) delicately conveys with profound emotion. Mack, whose mother left him with a bitter alcoholic father, is gentle with the dogs he trains, but he's mentally disturbed—psychologically tormented by a hissing noise, "Like when you roll the radio to static and dial up the volume." When the hissing gets loud, generally as a reaction to injustice, Mack turns chillingly violent. As tension builds, readers will likely anticipate that this violence will ignite the conflict that brings Mack and CéCe's relationship to an end, but each step of that journey is authentic, painful, and heartfelt. Griffin's gift at giving voice to deeply flawed, disadvantaged characters without patronizing or oversimplifying their circumstances shines in this moving novel of loss, acceptance, and the possibility of redemption. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
The New York Times
"Griffin gracefully answers questions and solves mysteries, leaving us with hope and a smile without making things falsely shiny and bright."
Horn Book
* "Unique and genuine. This is romance but also true tragedy. Heart-wrenching."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
* "Sweet, sensual, utterly engrossing, drawing readers in with engagingly authentic dialogue and fully realized characters."
The Sunday Herald Sun
"Exquisite, unforgettable, an intense portrait of first love, family ties and the bond between man and dog."
Booklist
" . . . a strong title in the competitive teen romance genre. With tragic Romeo-and-Juliet elements, this is a fast,paced, refreshingly honest, and surprisingly realistic urban love story."
Junior Library Guild
Official selection
VOYA - Ian Hourican
Stay with Me is a realistic fiction novel with a touch of romance. Mack has a way with dogs and takes in strays, while Cece is trying to find out what to do with her life. Both are sixteen, one is a high school dropout and the other an A student. This book starts off slowly with a confusing introduction but gets better when dogs come along. This reviewer recommends it for high school students because of sexual interactions. It can be enjoyed by both guys and girls. 2Q, 3P. Reviewer: Ian Hourican, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Lona Trulove
Realistic fiction with realistic underlined describes Stay with Me perfectly. Making an unlikely couple, CeCe, a shy, insecure A student falls in love with Mack, a high school dropout who has a special gift with animals (dogs in particular) and, unfortunately, a serious anger problem. CeCe helps to calm Mack, and Mack helps CeCe become more confident and overcome her fear of dogs, but a terrible mistake in the heat of the moment shatters everything. This is a well-written, true-to-life novel about growing up, trying to beat the odds of a tough life, and ultimately trusting and loving those around us. Given the intensity of their relationship both emotionally and sexually, as well as the violence, this story is best suited for junior or senior high school students. This book will find its way to the "favorites" shelf right next to books like S.E. Hinton's classic The Outsiders for most young adults. Although boys will enjoy this story, it will resonate with girls as they cheer and cry for the bad boy with a good heart. Reviewer: Lona Trulove
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
A good story always has well defined characters and tangled plot elements, including a strong sense of place. The story of Mack and Cece—pronounced chee chee—is a sweet sad story full of hope. Mack is a high school drop out with an attitude and no self-confidence. He can't look anybody in the eye, but he's good with dogs and is forever retraining abandoned pit bulls. He has two jobs: one working in Vic's restaurant at whatever job Vic gives him and the other walking dogs. His best friend at the restaurant is Tony, Cece's older brother. He's been trying to get Mack and his sister together, but Mack is resistant to the idea. Tony and Vic and then Cece believe in Mack even though he doesn't believe in himself. Through Cece's love, Mack begins to control his temper and feel hopeful about his future. But when his neighbor poisons Mack and Cece's dog, Mack beats him to death. Sentenced to life imprisonment, Mack tries to push Cece away. When he is befriended by one of the guards, Mack finds a purpose in life. He is allowed to train service dogs; the first one going to the now crippled Tony. This is a powerful book and good a jumping off point for a discussion of choices and their consequences. Even reluctant-reader teen boys can relate to this book. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Céce doesn't think much of herself. Although she is studying to take a gifted and talented test, works part time at Vic's pizza shop, and patiently looks out for her alcoholic mother, it isn't until she meets Mack, a fellow employee, that she begins to notice her strengths. When her older brother ships off to boot camp, he asks Mack to look after his sister. Timid Mack cannot even look her in the eye (or anyone else for that matter), but he agrees to help, and Céce begins to fall for the handsome, sensitive teen. Even though Mack has dropped out of school and has learning problems, she sees past that to the sweet boy who rehabilitates abused pit bulls, who has dreams and shares secrets, and who is also battling an oppressive home life. She overcomes her fear of dogs and is ready to open her heart to a rescue animal. A romance ensues, one that is as passionate and frantic as first love often is. Then Mack, who has anger issues, strikes out at a vindictive neighbor and changes everything. Told in alternating chapters between the two teens over the span of just 102 days, Griffin's novel weaves a haunting story of love and heartbreak. Céce's transformation is realistic and bittersweet as she moves from "Who am I without him?" to a girl who dreams her own dreams. And although Mack's actions are brutal, one cannot help but feel empathy for him and hope for his redemption via his work training service dogs. A stellar story, with genuine dialogue and drama, this is a book that will appeal greatly to teens, especially dog lovers.—Lauren Newman, Northern Burlington County Regional Middle School, East Columbus, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

Their relationship is doomed from the start.

For 15-year-olds Céce and Mack, it's nearly love at first sight—not an easy feat, since they're so remarkably different. He's a dyslexic dropout with a police record. She's an excellent student, studying for an entrance exam to a gifted-and-talented program. Each comes from a hard-drinking, single-parent family, although Céce's mother exudes heartfelt affection while Mack's father is a misanthropic hate-monger. When provoked, Mack's anger is nearly uncontrollable, yet his transcendent sensitivity toward Céce and the pit bulls he rescues and cares for is extraordinary. Pushed together by Céce's brother, the heartbreaking depth of their relationship is vividly depicted through affecting prose and believable dialogue. After Mack gets into serious trouble, their resulting separation marks the end; each of them has to find a way to continue on, horribly damaged, but not destroyed. Remarkable characters abound: Vic, the wily fellow who employs them both in his quirky restaurant; Anthony, Céce's brave older brother; Wash, a compassionate prison guard; Mr. Thompkins, an impatient, drill-sergeant on a mission; and, notably,a pair of slobbering, devoted pit bulls. Even a too-convenient climax doesn't detract but rather gives readers and characters the relief they need. Achingly, authentically emotionally resonant, this sad, never-saccharine tale related in alternating voices will have absorbed readers reaching for the Kleenex.

An outstanding love story peopled by a wealth of memorable characters. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Cathi Hanauer
This funny, wrenching, often heartbreaking novel,…brings contemporary characters and authentic street atmosphere, not to mention dogs and dysfunction, to the age-old story of two teenagers—here, same side of the tracks but different ends of the academic spectrum—in the bliss of first love…Griffin gracefully answers questions and solves mysteries, leaving us with hope and a smile without making things falsely shiny and bright.
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803734487
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/8/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Griffin lives, writes, and trains dogs in New York City. His previous novel, The Orange Houses, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults Top Ten, an International Reading Association 2010 Notable Book for a Global Society, a Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best Book of 2009, and an Amelia Bloomer Project Award winner.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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(12)

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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    Question

    Hey can somebody ruin it for me? I really wanna know how it ends!!!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very authentic!

    This is a very fast paced story that deals with tough but real life issues. It is gritty, and I recommend for mature teens. The characters are very believable, down to earth and authentic, and even though I didn't relate a whole lot with some of their circumstances, I really felt for them and wanted for them to come out on top.
    Tony and Vic are two of the minor characters who really got to me.. Their ability to see the best in people, work to bring it out, and selflessly give really impressed me and I loved seeing their hearts.
    The main characters Cece and Mack, true to the back cover's description are two very different people, and it is awesome how they see the best in the other and how they are able to connect on that real level. Because of this and the nature of teenage relationships, quickly formed and deeply felt, I am able to buy into the fast paced nature of their physical relationship as well as the attachments they feel.
    This book doesn't give the rosy happy ending... but it feels so authentic and heart-breaking while at the same time feeling the buds of hope for real change and possibilities for the characters makes it perfect and fitting.

    From Blkosiner's book blog

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Awesome

    I love this book i read this book and i amost cryed it was that good i love how it is mostly about what teen lov is about and the things you have too pick from

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2012

    This book " Stay with me" by Paul Griffin, is an inter

    This book " Stay with me" by Paul Griffin, is an interesting book. It was touching and heartbreaking. In this book Cece on of the main characters is a sweet girl, and Mack Morris is a high school drop out. They are bother very different people who didn't expect too fall in love. Everything is going well in their relationship until.... Mack makes a horrible mistake that could ruin his relationship with Cece. The characters were very believable. This book is more for teens, there are some section of the book that are for older kids. It was a good book not my favorite book, iI wasnt that intrested in it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2012

    Beautiful

    Its the best book i've ever read. Love, pain, moving on, nothing more to say. Im speechless. It makes you cry and feel deep pain but makes you happy in life. Cry till the last page. I love it. I would want a romance like this. Inspiring.
    -N

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    I liked the book but i didn't love it. In some parts of the book

    I liked the book but i didn't love it. In some parts of the book you are left to guess what is happening and thats confusing to me. The climax of the book totally took me by surprise and that doesn't happen very often so that was a nice change. I enjoyed reading about Cece's family and found them very likeable. You don't really get to know the characters and Mack and Cece's relationship is shallow in my opinion. Overall the book was good but I'm glad I checked it out from the library instead of buying it. Hope this helped!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Great book

    I thought it was plain amazing. I would recomend this to everyone. I was caught in this book and i cried in some part.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Gripping read!

    In Griffin's Stay with Me, you'll feel you are there, making the best of it on the mean streets of New York City. You'll be rooting for Mack, CeCe and Anthony, who hang on to their hopes and struggle against the odds. You'll be fascinated and moved by Mack's love for his dogs, and floored by the destructive threads of family dysfunction and substance abuse. And, thankfully, you'll find some amusement amidst the realism too! Read Stay with Me and you'll be rewarded with riveting insights into the power of love and forgiveness.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    PUT THIS ON YOUR MUST READ LIST!

    This book made me laugh and cry and want to fall in love all over again. I loved how I thought I could predict what was going to happen and was wrong every step of the way! It's not a mystery, but you become so engrossed in the characters that you want to know everything about them, and you try to predict how their lives will develop in the story. The characters in the book are so real, and creep into your heart...every one of them, even the dysfunctional ones! And oh yeah...if you love dogs there's a HUGE bonus in reading this book! Definitely a must read for high schoolers and adults, but wouldn't recommend for middle school.

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  • Posted July 25, 2011

    Highly recommended

    I loved Ten Mile River and Orange Houses, but I think Stay With Me is my favorite so far. Reading this novel transported me back to what it feels like to be fifteen again, the characters were so well written and believable. You could see how CeCe would fall in love with Mack, despite his flaws and as the heartbreaking tale unravels, it is impossible to put the book down. The dog training aspects were fascinating, I was almost convinced to run out and get a pit bull, which says a lot, not being a natural dog lover myself.

    I highly recommend Stay With Me, it is a book that you will think about long after you are done reading it.

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    Posted June 5, 2012

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    Posted December 5, 2012

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    Posted July 1, 2014

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    Posted September 23, 2011

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    Posted November 27, 2011

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