‘Stay’ focuses on character’s misfortunes

Posted Aug. 29, 2010, at 8:09 p.m.

STAY by Allie Larkin c.2010, Brilliance Audio $29.99/$37.50 Canada, 9 CDs, just over 10 hours.

When was the last time you did something magnificently, incredibly dumb?

For most of us, the answer is anywhere from “yesterday” to “twenty seconds ago”, and we spend a lot of time scolding ourselves for being knuckleheads. That’s because we all do things we regret sooner or later.

In the new audiobook “Stay” by Allie Larkin, Savannah “Van” Leone did not just one, but three really boneheaded things — all in the same weekend. And life will never be the same again.

On the afternoon that Peter Clarke asked Savannah Leone out for coffee after class, Van fell in love, instantly. She wanted to look into Peter’s eyes forever. She imagined what it would be like to touch him. She hoped Peter felt the same way.

If only she hadn’t introduced her best friend, Janie, to the man she loved.

To be fair, the fact that Peter and Janie ended up together wasn’t all that surprising. Janie was from the “right” kind of family: the kind with Country Club memberships and pools. Van was from the kind of family that cleaned pools. When Peter’s father found out that Van’s mother was a maid, well, the writing was on the bathhouse wall. Now Van’s mom was gone, Janie was Mrs. Peter Clarke, and Van was depressed.

And so it was, on the night that Van was Maid of Honor at Peter and Janie’s wedding, and Peter came to Van’s childhood home, drunk, and almost kissed her, that Van had a little too much to drink herself and made a colossal mistake.

All she ever wanted was someone to love. And there, staring out from a website, was that someone: a dog. A dog, just like Rin Tin Tin.

A $6,000 dog.

A cute little puppy that turned out to be a monster dog that only knew commands in Croatian, and that came in a crate that barely fit in Van’s car. A behemoth of an animal that Basso-woofed, shed, and nearly pulled Van’s arm from her body. A dog that ate too many wrong things, got sick, and required visits to a veterinarian who was very cute and very single, and who just happened to speak Croatian quite fluently…

OK, so you know what happens to end this audiobook. It is, after all, a work of fiction. But like most enjoyable novels, half the fun is learning how it happens.

The other half, in this case, is the performer: Award-winning Julia Whelan does a great job bringing Savannah Leone to life in “Stay.” That’s not to say that author Allie Larkin is a slouch, but Whelan gives Savannah the perfect New Yawk accent, which pulls you into the action. The other voices are well-done, too, but I was too charmed by the self-depreciating, clumsy, smart-alecky voice that Whelan gives to Larkin’s main character in this cute romantic romp-with-dog.

If you’ve been looking for something to listen to while ferrying the kids around this school year, try “Stay.” This is an audiobook you won’t regret hearing.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old, and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.

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