Author: Allie Larkin
Publisher: Dutton (Penguin)
Released: June 2010
Genre: Women's Fiction
Van (Savannah) has been in love with Peter ever since they bumped into each other on the first day of college. But now, she has to serve as maid of honor as her best friend Janie marries Peter. After suffering through the ceremony and being told off by Diane, Janie's mom and Van's mother's former employer, Van goes on a drinking binge to drown out her pain. And when reruns of Rin Tin Tin incite in her feelings towards canines, Van impulsively buys a puppy online. The puppy, Joe, though not at all what she expected, is just what she needs - especially since the vet is so adorable! Ready to start fresh, Van moves forward, but is held back when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon and bring their messy families with them. But with her new resolve and courage from Joe, Van will trimph over all!
It took me a few days to read this book, and my reaction came in stages. My first thoughts, when reading the blurbs and the first few pages, was - oh! My Best Friend's Wedding with a dog! In fact, The Way You Look Tonight popped up within a few pages, so I figured the author was very much aware of the allusion. But no, Stay doesn't really have much to do with the movie, aside from the beginning of the premise. And after I realized that, my interest sort of waned. Not because I wanted the connection, but because the beginning of the book didn't hold my interest. It's a little slow-going and hard to get into. I almost put it down and forgot about it, but I figured - just a few more pages, maybe it'll pick up. And it does - once you get into it, it's hard to stop reading. It's just those first few chapters that are difficult.
Van herself is amazing. I love her character! She actually reminds me of myself quite a it - the endless review of things she says and does, second-guessing people's intentions and her reactions... Her constant insecurity, when combined with her outspokenness and rash behavior, is very endearing. Besides, she's funny! Ask my mother (who was sitting there while I was reading) - I just kept on laughing out loud!
I especially like that she does things throughout the book. She doens't sit back and wait for things to happen to her. She actually says at one point that up till then, her life was defined by other people's decisions, and now she is deciding for herself. I think that before that point also, she had been making decisions - many bad ones, but still, everything that happened was a result of things she did. I really don't like when heroines have things happen to them, and Van is one strong heroine in that she does things herself. When she screws up, it's all her fault, but when she fixes it, it's all her credit.
I did find the romance a bit lacking, both when it came to Peter and Alex, the vet, though for different reasons. With Peter, I just couldn't figure out why Van would have pined for him so long. He's actually a bit of a jerk! That wasn't consistent - sometimes he seemed really sweet, but at times I was completely disgusted with him. As for Alex, though I liked him and could totally understand Van falling for him, I felt like, first of all, I didn't get to know him very well, and besides, the romance was a bit underdeveloped. And when he leaves her, it seems totally out of character. Though his friend Louis explains why what Van did hurt him so much, I did feel like - whoa! where'd that come from?
For a light summer read, this book is quite good - full of laughs and hope and love. Once you start taking it apart, though (unpacking it, as my lit professors like to say), there are some things obviously missing. My advice - read it, enjoy it, and don't think too much about it!