Stay With Me by Paul Griffin
This urban drama really resonated with me because Griffin includes some unusual elements in his plot. Fifteen-year-old Mack has dropped out of school, and has a type of learning disability that makes it hard for him to read and process information. But, he has a special ability to train dogs, that makes the interactions between the boy and dogs seem magical. Cece is a straight A student, who’s prepping to score well on a school district exam to get into a special program, and eventually a decent college. She wants so badly to escape her alcoholic mother and rough neighborhood that she’s made no time for relationships with boys. Cece and Mack meet through her older brother Anthony, when they are all transfered to their boss’s second restaurant after he loses the first one in a card game. Almost immediately, despite their differences, they bond with each other and quickly fall in love. And then, Mack loses his self control, making a huge mistake that may affect not only their future together, but his entire life.
Told in Cece’s and Mack’s alternating perspectives, this book felt honest and true for me. Griffin does a good job taking readers into the impoverished urban landscape that is the setting for the story, without becoming stereotypical or overly sentimental. I would recommend this to readers of urban drama and teens looking for an unusual and realistic love story.