Savannah (Van) Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke for six years, but knew from the moment Peter met her best friend Janie that all hope was gone. To add insult to injury, she’s Janie’s first choice for Maid of Honor, and has spent the last several months trying to pretend she’s happy instead of heartbroken.
After a terrible combination of Kool-Aid and Vodka cocktails and a Rin Tin Tin marathon, Van does something totally out of character: she buys a German Shepherd puppy off the Internet. She remembers her purchase the next day, but it’s too late to take it back. And things are about to get worse.
The “puppy” Van ordered weighs 100 pounds and only responds to commands in Slovak. It doesn’t hurt that the local vet is easy on the eyes, but taking care of a dog — who she names Joe — and dealing with her own heartbreak feels like more than Van can handle. But Joe might just be the only being who will always love her, no matter what.
Predictable, but wonderful
Allie Larkin may be a new writer, but her novel is not a new story. Girl meets boy, boy falls in love with girl’s best friend, girl copes using alcohol/avoidance, makes stupid decisions, and finds her real “true love” by happy accident.
That’s not to say that Stay felt stale or overdone; Van is a great character, and it was great to see her learn to stand up for herself throughout the course of the novel. It’s immediately obvious that Peter is a pampered weakling with no discernable backbone, and I spent the first half of the novel wondering why the hell Van would sit around mooning over someone who is obviously a complete fool.
Van is completely wrapped up in herself, but suddenly having to be responsible for Joe forces her to grow up in ways that she hasn’t needed to before. I liked seeing her fall in love with someone new, but to me that’s less exciting and interesting than watching her discover herself again, and realize that Peter and all the drama and bullshit just isn’t important anymore.
The one complaint I have is regarding the plot structure. The first chapter is a “prequel” of sorts, and then the second chapter cuts right to Peter and Janie’s wedding. Lots of plot development starts here, but since Larkin doesn’t do a great job of showing exactly how all these characters know each other, it’s hard to figure out exactly what’s happening.
Other than that, though, well done. Great characters, nice love story, an awesome dog, and — most importantly, I think — a story of a woman’s figuring out her own strength.