Hello, YA world! I've got two great books for your summer reading list...Stay With Me by Garret Freymann-Weyr and Boy Toy by Barry Lyga. I can't say which is better, but they both have moments of intensity drawn out by poignant characters with strong voices. Stay With Me deals with the intracies of love, but now that I've said this, well, I have to say that the same is true of Boy Toy. You know, I meant to just give you a brief synopsis of each, but now I think I'm about to get on a roll with Stay With Me. It is an awesome book, and I can't just let it to go with a few words. Boy Toy will have to wait a little longer.
Let me ask you some questions. Ok, how do you come to terms with a father who lived a different life with a different family before you were born? How do you come to understand the suicide of a half-sister who forgot to say goodbye? How do you know if love will stay with you when you have evidence of it leaving all around you? For Leila Abrenel, whose life has been shaped by dyslexia, none of these questions are black or white, and the answers become more muddied when she falls in love and begins a relationship many would call scandolous based on a large age gap.
Here is an excerpt in which Leila is speaking of Eamon, the man she loves, and Rebecca, her deceased half sister:
Still, I think about him more than I don't. If I'm not careful, I think about him all the time. What would it take to return to the ease of feeling safe and appreciated? The way I did with him? It would take, I decide being twenty. Better to think of my dead sister than a man whose kiss I will remember forever. Even if he vanishes as completely as Rebecca has.
Great, isn't it? And, here's another where Leila describes her father's great, ruined love:
After all, my father's great love was not with my mother but with theirs. Janie and Julian's marriage didn't just produce my sisters, but a great ruin. When I found him, he was ruined, is exactly how my mother puts it. She means that he missed my sisters and was distracted by being lonely and confused. But I think something else was going on.
Wow, a great ruin. Makes me think of ancient Greece, the Parthenon, the statue of Venus de Milo with a shattered beauty and jagged purity of form. I guess love is sometimes too brilliant to remain; only fragments linger as small glimmers in a photograph.
All I can say now is that Stay With Me is built on a foundation of many layers. All the nuances of love are explored throught a believable, honest narrative voice. Leila is not the kind of girl you'll find in chick-lit novels. She is as real as they come.