Title: I’ll Stay
Author: Karen Day
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Page Count: 320
My rating: 4 stars
About the book:
In this compelling, emotionally complex novel, a college friendship sparks a life-changing sacrifice that connects two women forever–even as it shatters their closeness . . .
“Let her go. I’ll stay.”
There are some decisions you can never unmake. You can only atone for them—or try to. During her senior year of college, Clare Michaels takes a spring break trip to Florida with three other girls, including her best friend, Lee. She’s hoping for adventure and a few stories to share back at school. Instead, a string of bad choices leads to a horrific encounter, and Lee offers herself up so that Clare can escape.
In the weeks and months that follow that fateful incident, Lee, once so dynamic and ambitious, flounders and withdraws. Clare was the only person to whom she’d ever confided about her troubled past. For Clare, that role felt like an honor—until it became a burden. Now she’s trying to make amends for her momentary selfishness by taking care of Lee—just as she’s been taking care of her high-strung mother, whose bestselling novel has been both windfall and curse. Years pass, circumstances change, and contact between Clare and Lee ebbs and flows, but the events of that night in Florida are impossible to escape. They keep dragging Clare back—forcing her to confront what really happened, and her part in it, in hopes of untangling guilt from loyalty and earning forgiveness at last . . .
I’ll Stay by Karen Day is a contemporary fiction read that centers around the main character Clare Michaels. The story is about friendship and family and the choices made surrounding those relationships. It brings to mind those what if moments in our lives that we can’t help but think how things would be if any other choice had been made.
The story starts with Clare and her friends on a trip during their last year of college. A time in their lives when decisions are being made for the future with those years coming to an end and not knowing where the friendships will be as that time ends in their lives.
Clare and Lee had grown close at college but their friendship was struggling at the time of the trip. When the girls find themselves in an intense situation Lee sacrifices herself to save Clare which sets off a domino effect in their lives for years to come.
The story is told in parts with each taking a bit of a time jump to follow Clare through different parts of her life. And I would warn that this one needs a trigger warning for rape for those that need to avoid those type of stories although this one is not on the overly graphic side with the details.
The book had several different sides to it looking into the main characters life through the years. There is the friendship and the choices she made but as the layers are peeled back family plays a huge part in the story too or more specifically her relationship with her mother. There were a few points in which it seemed a tad slow for my taste but there was also a pull to keep reading to find out just what had really happened with the event on the girls trip so I found that overall this one was an engaging read and would try something from this author again in the future.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
Karen Day is the author of three middle grade novels, Tall Tales, No Cream Puffs, and A Million Miles from Boston, all published by Wendy Lamb at Random House. I’ll Stay is her first adult novel. In addition to teaching at the Cape Cod Writing Center conference, she also teaches at Boston’s Grub Street, at various SCBWI events and at workshops across metro Boston. Readers can visit her website at klday.com.