Some Things That Stay: A Novel

Some Things That Stay: A Novel

by Sarah Willis
4.8 13

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Some Things That Stay: A Novel by Sarah Willis

A stunning first novel about a young girl's coming-of-age in the 1950s.

Tamara Anderson's father is a landscape artist who quickly tires of the scenery, so every year her family seeks out new locations for his inspiration. When the Andersons move to a farmhouse in Sherman, New York, in the spring of 1954, fifteen-year-old Tamara and her mother want to settle down and make it home. Sherman begins to work a strange magic on Tamara and her siblings: there's the proselytizing family in the tar-paper house across the street; the dairy cow that becomes a beloved pet; the dead boy who used to live in Tamara's bedroom; her friend Brenda, who teaches her to swear; and Brenda's big brother, Rusty, an irresistible freckle-faced redhead.
While Tamara experiences her first real year of happiness, her mother is diagnosed with tuberculosis, forcing her into a sanatorium. Tamara struggles with her desire to stay in Sherman, her fear of losing her mother, and her anger at being left in charge of two younger siblings while her father escapes into the world of his art.
Deeply moving, with a profound understanding of family dynamics and adolescent anguish, Some Things That Stay introduces an unforgettable narrative voice and marks the arrival of a distinctive, new American talent.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466821699
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 02/01/2000
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
File size: 307 KB

About the Author

Sarah Willis is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has published several short stories. Some Things That Stay is her first novel. She lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Sarah Willis is a Pushcart Prize nominee and is the author of Some Things That Stay (FSG, 2000), winner of the Book-of-the-Month-Club's Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction. She lives with her two children in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

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Some Things That Stay 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At fifteen, Tamara Anderson hates being different. But thanks to her parents' free-thinking ways and vagabond spirit, totally contrary to the conventional 1950s American lifestyle, Tamara and her younger siblings Robert and Megan start over in a new school each year. In fact, moving every spring is about the only thing the trio CAN count on.
The year of 1954, however, things are different in a way that no one could ever have anticipated. Tamara's mother has become sluggish, no longer seeming to care about her former passions. At night, she coughs incessantly, as the family tries to pretend nothing is wrong.
Meanwhile, the family's acquaintance with their new neighbors, the Murphys, threatens them spiritually and emotionally. The Murphys, especially eldest daughter, Helen, are devout Baptists, intent on "saving" the atheist Andersons.
Yet despite her parent's vehement objections, Tamara finds that she's eager to embrace the concept of God. She wonders about his nature, why he would let her mother become ill - and whether God might just be the only thing left to save her family from total disaster.
This quietly-told story of a young girl's coming of age, their struggles to stay afloat both physically and emotionally when they're faced with the possible loss of their mother, and the idea of what really constitutes conventionality is bound to leave an impression upon readers' minds.
LCH47 More than 1 year ago
This is a charming, insightful, and intense read, a coming of age story, that will capture the heart ten-fold. The story, set in the 50's, begins with the Anderson's arriving at their new home after yet another move. Fifteen year old Tamara has lived in a different house every year, with only her parents and her brothers as constants. She decides that this move, to yet another rented house, will be her last! The story goes that this one was abandoned by parents who couldn't stand the grief of the death of their beloved son who died of leukemia the year before. Her father is an artist who needs new things and landscapes to paint, hence the moves, and her mom, a radical, too political woman, gets desperately ill later on. There's humor to go along with the serious melodrama and poetic writing that will keep you thoroughly engaged. Other wonderful books that left a HUGE impression on me: ROSEFLOWER CREEK, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME, REDEEMING LOVE, WHISTLING IN THE DARK.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tamara Anderson doesn¿t remember the last time her family lived in a community, because back then she was three years old. That¿s how many rented houses ago? Every year her father moves them to a new location, because he¿s a landscape painter and every year he requires a new vista. So Tamara, Robert, and Megan¿s only on-going relationships must be with each other and with their parents. For Liz Anderson, her husband is her only friend in the world. She spends her considerable energies supplementing her children¿s public education, and embarrasses Tamara with frequent letters to whatever school her eldest is currently attending. Making sure the authorities know that the Andersons are devout atheists, civil rights advocates, and so on. Views which, in 1954, are flash points for the rural communities where her husband¿s work takes them. Only now, as the story of the family¿s four months in Mayfield, New York begins, an overwhelmingly weary Liz seldom rouses herself to write such letters. She can barely drive her youngsters to the library. When the Murphys, a poor but lively Baptist family across the rural road from the Andersons¿ rented farm, invite the children to church, Liz tries to argue but winds up letting fifteen-year-old Tamara and the younger ones go. Partly because she must honor their intellectual curiosity about religion, but mostly because she¿s simply too tired to debate the issue. Tamara¿s summer to grow up has arrived. Whether or not she¿s ready, she must look at her parents as people and face their mortality. For the first time since she can remember, their island within the larger world can no longer operate self-sufficiently. Liz¿s illness forces them to accept help which the Murphys offer¿as do their landlords, a Methodist couple who moved out of the farmhouse after their only child (a boy just a year older than Tamara) died there. 'Just another coming of age novel' this is not. It captures a time and place, rural America in 1954, with a lack of sentimentality that should refresh even the most jaded of readers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is that rare first novel that eschews the workshop syndrome and, instead, offers a unique, but recognizable voice. Willis has a fine touch and demonstrates that fine writing does not have to be in-your-face to draw the reader in. Strong characterization. Tamara is a living, breathing 15-year-old, with all the sass and attitude, who's on the verge of adulthood--whether she likes it or not. A first novel not to be missed. A first novel to be cherished.
1louise1 More than 1 year ago
This story is told from the perspective of a 15 year-old daughter of atheist parents who move to a new house every year so her father has new landscapes to paint. This touching and funny coming of age story was a delight from start to finish.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I live right down the road from where Some Things That Stay takes place. Willis' description of our area is so accurate. She captures the essence of small town life in a 15 year old girl. Almost any female can relate to Tamara Anderson because Willis told us everything about becoming a woman that other authors may have been afraid to write. I would reccommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a story about growing up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who has moved to different places at any time in their lives will appreciate the emotions described so eloquently in this novel.The family dynamics,or lack thereof, are spot on for the time in which the story is set. The closing lines are astute.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sarah Willis has written such a memorable book. The story is believable with characters that every reader can relate to in some way or another. I couldn't stop reflecting back on my own childhood. I found myself routing for the main character even when she was being a brat. I highly recommend this book. A great first novel with a refreshing story line.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I fell in love the quiet power of the author's prose. I picked it up as one of the B&N Discover series books and can see why they loved it. I highly recommend this wonderful novel!