I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A young girl desperate for a family dog finds her world turned upside down as crisis after a crisis hits her family in author Katherine Lawrence’s “Stay”.
Millie is eleven (going on twelve) and enjoys doing what kids usually like to do: riding her bike and dreaming of the day she can convince her family to get a dog. She also writes in her diary daily. But instead of writing to herself, she writes to her twin brother Billy, who died before he was born. Alright, so it’s not totally normal, but it’s manageable.
Millie’s life as she knows it comes to a screeching halt, however, when her parents decide to separate. Her mother gets a new boyfriend, and her father moves into a new place – an apartment – with a big sign on the door that says NO DOGS ALLOWED.
As she struggles to get her parents back together – not just for her sake, but for the sake of her future dog as well – Millie is elated when her father moves back in a short while later. She can’t understand why her parents aren’t happy at the reconciliation until she learns the truth: her father has moved back in because he has been diagnosed with cancer.
Told through the diary entries of Millie, Stay is a moving portrait of a family in a time of crisis, whose pain is filtered through the thoughts and actions of an eleven-year-old girl, capturing the essence of what it means to grow up, confront your fears, support your family, and share in the wild optimism that only youth can harbour.
Never one to shy away from tough issues, and constantly experimenting with form, acclaimed Saskatchewan poet Katherine Lawrence shifts successfully and beautifully into juvenile fiction with this moving story-in-verse.
This was such a beautiful and heartfelt read. The way the author was able to craft such an emotional middle-grade read in such a short amount of time was brilliant. The imagery and the almost lyrical way the story flowed really helped elevate the emotions and instill the ever-changing atmosphere in a natural way. The themes the author explores here, from family and what defines it to the bond between a pet and its person and so much more, really helped engage readers in this narrative.
The thing that really stood out to me was the way the author was able to balance the character development of the narrative with the poetic writing style of the story itself. The way each chapter was broken up into a poetry-style system of letters from the protagonist to her late twin brother was so heartfelt to read, and the nuances and complexities of this family dynamic and relationship with one another really added a relatability and honesty that cannot be mimicked.
Haunting, emotionally driven, and beautifully written, author Katherine Lawrence’s “Stay” is a must-read novel of family drama meets poetry. The heart and depth that the author captures while also crafting an engaging narrative for younger readers really highlights the subtle nuances and captivating imagery the author is able to invoke in this narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!
About the Author
Never Mind is Katherine Lawrence’s third collection of poetry. The manuscript won the 2015 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award and the 2014 City of Regina Writing Award. Her previous collections have been equally honoured. Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Katherine chairs Access Copyright Foundation, and is a former president of the Sage Hill Writing Experience board of directors. She moved to Saskatchewan in 1982 and currently lives in Saskatoon with her husband.