Like Bastard Out Of Carolina, Ffitch S Electrifying Debut Novel Is A Paean To Independence And A Protest Against The Materialism Of Our Age O The Oprah MagazineDelightfully Raucous Sam Sacks, The Wall Street JournalHelen Arrives In Appalachian Ohio Full Of Love And Her Boyfriend S Ideas For Living Off The Land Too Soon, With Winter Coming, He Calls It Quits Helped By Rudy Her Government Questioning, Wisdom Spouting, Seasonal Affective Disordered Boss And A Neighbor Couple, Helen Makes It To Spring Those Neighbors, Karen And Lily, Are Awaiting The Arrival Of Their First Child, A Boy, Which Means Their Time At The Women S Land Trust Must EndSo Helen Invites The New Family To Throw In With Her They Ll Split The Work And The Food, Build A House, And Make A Life That Sustains Them, If Barely, For Years Then Young Perley Decides He Wants To Go To School And Rudy Sets Up A Fruit Tree Nursery On The Pipeline Easement Edging Their Land The Outside World Is Brought Clamoring Into Their Makeshift FamilySet In A Region Known For Its Independent Spirit, Stay And Fight Shakes Up What It Means To Be A Family, To Live Well, To Make Peace With Nature And Make Deals With The System It Is A Protest Novel That Challenges Our Notions Of Effective Action It Is A Family Novel That Refuses To Limit The Term And It Is A Marvel Of Storytelling That Both Breaks With Tradition And Celebrates It Best Of All, It Is Full Of Flawed, Cantankerous, Flesh And Blood Characters Who Remind Us That Conflict Isn T The End Of Love, But The Real BeginningAbsorbingly Spun, Perfectly Voiced, And Disruptively Political, Madeline Ffitch S Stay And Fight Forces Us To Reimagine An Appalachia And An America We Think We Know And It Takes Us, Laughing And Fighting, Into A New Understanding Of What It Means To Love And To Be Free Things I learned from Stay and Fight people are mean people are even meaner to you if you re different and even so if you re also poor or any kind of minority but it s still alright to be differentStay and Fight was gritty, sometimes brutal and cynnical, real and rough, but it was also a gem, a pure wonder It s told in a very honest and very raw way you can basically feel, smell and see it all, because it s so colorful and full of energy.And so I loved this book with incredible ferocity.Read the full review here I thank the publisher for a free copy of the ebook through NetGalley in exchange to my honest review This has not affected my opinion.Read Post On My Blog Themed Bookstagram Quick Update Bookstagram Bookish Twitter I said, You can keep my comic books.He said, I ll give you my force field This literally made me happy and sad at the same time.This is the slow kind of good read where even the different POVs work just fine.This one has characters which you feel like you have known them as they are but you cannot reach them and not actually know what they are thinking.The writing style is good The characters are good weird to read about.The events described in this one weirdly satisfying.Three women raising a boy together.Lily is the mean aunt who had invited the lesbian couple, Karen and Helen, to built a house and stay together with her.My favourite character is the boy, Perley Right from the moment he was born till the end of the book.I just love how he sees things A beautiful mind.Another unlikely favourite character is Rudy The guy who was there whenever the unlikely trio needed him The characters are sometimes disturbing And what they do and say is hell creepy Sleeping with a black snake alongside the kid, get the hint I felt malnourished while reading this one.I could actually feel the characters starving at some point or the other.And I nearly gagged when one of the characters actually drank fat.Damn It s hard to survive on a barren land.But the real issue came up when Perley was sent to school and the series of events happening after that.And this unseeming family gets attention and Perley is taken away in order to protect him Things start getting clearer.Things kept happening.You are made to believe something else this whole time and towards the end, you are given a new story.I freaking loved Perley s POV chapters.It kept me going I further need to rate this book based on itsCover 2 Writing style 4 Character description development 4 Chemistry between the characters 5 Plot 2 So, it was basically the writing style, the character development and the chemistry between the characters that made this one a good read. Thanks to goodreads and the publisher for the free copy This is the story of a woman who moves to Appalachia with her boyfriend to live off the land his idea He quickly bails out at the first sign of difficulty She stays and barely survives the first winter Needing reinforcements, she invites a lesbian couple who need a new place to live The have a new baby boy making them ineligible to stay on Woman s Trust land any longer They mix with a hillbilly anti authoritarian who usually has cheeto dust in his beard and an old depressed lawyer They get by minding their own business for a few years Of course, when the boy is old enough for school other people start minding their business for them The villains aren t evil really, but like in life they are just principals and social workers and nameless corporations who need their land, just doing their jobs With the over the top nature of the characters, the book probably shouldn t have worked But it sure did work It reminded me of The Monkey Wrench Gang with feminists instead of cowboys, hillbillies instead of polygamists The fighting against the system was fun, but the characters were very well written, I came for the rebellion and stayed for the people The narration alternates between first person takes of the three women and the boy and they all worked The quirky boy raised like a wolf fantasizing of being an elf, able to live off the land but problematic because he can t navigate a tablet, was particularly entertaining A fine book. I m a huge fan of character driven novels, especially ones in which characters narrate their turn of events In this incredibly quirky novel, Stay and Fight author and Appalachia environmental activist, Madeline Ffitch, provides the reader with the ugly downside of the gas pipeline projects But it s than that it s also a story of survivalist sorts trying to live peacefully, outside social norms, in untraditional ways This way of life becomes a problem for society s do gooders who want to banish those who don t fall in line with their ideals Ffitch s strength as an author is making her characters endearing and sympathetic An casual observer could view the characters as being dangerous, malicious, and a bit crazy Under Ffitch s deft skills, the reader sees the characters heart and intentions It s a novel that forces the reader to take a pause in initial judgments of those who live an unconventional life.Narrators Helen, Lily, and Karen are three women who live in the Ohio Appalachian Mountains Helen came with her boyfriend, purchasing a few acres to scrape off a living Lily and Karen are lesbians who want to live their lives freely Lily is pregnant and the ladies plan to raise their child off the land When their son Perley is born, the two women need to find another place of living, as they are in a woman only community After Helen s boyfriend leaves her, she offers her home to the women to share.Perley starts narrating when he s around 5 or 6 He s an adorable narrator, providing the reader with his innocent points of view He loves his moms and his mean aunt Helen However, once he sees the school bus stop at the end of the road to pick up other children, he decides he wants to go to school He just wants a friend.Another fascinating character is Rudy, an arborist who has his own special place in the novel If I saw Rudy in the streets, I d keep my distance In the novel, he is hilarious.The life style of the characters could make anyone blanch When Perley goes to school with snakebite on his face, the officials get involved Perley is one of the best characters in the novel, with his innocence and observations making the reader chuckle The ladies have their own special chuckle moments It s a story of misfits just trying to live their lives with the underlying message that pipelines will have serious social and economical consequences. 4.5 rounded up I was actually really startled by how much I ended up enjoying this book The writing was crisp and clean yet evocative The shifting first person POV really worked for me and I absolutely loved the way the differing personalities were revealed through the eyes of others I even found the child narrator charming and hilarious, and I usually find child narrators deeply annoying Yes, even in Room That s how good this was The one thing that kept coming up again and again is that everyone was an unreliable narrator towards their own life everybody saw themselves completely differently to how the other characters saw them, and that felt very true to life while also being actually a pretty original way to tell a story like this, despite the fact that I ve described it so poorly that I m sure it sounds run of the mill here Perhaps for this reason, the book this actually ended up reminding me most of was Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey, which also had a really unique approach to multiple narrators, and also featured strong female familial relationships sketched across a brutally harsh natural landscape Of course that book is a dystopia, and this book is set in our regular old world But still This came up again in the main plot of the novel I kept jumping back and forth and back and forth as to whose side I was on, as I m sure I was intended to do All the characters were vivid and written with a sense of deep love and empathy despite how critically flawed they all were, and that made for an uncomfortably conflicted yet brilliant read at times Characters that initially seemed villainous to me seemed increasingly reasonable as I delved deeper into the storyline, and then tilted back towards antagonism Everyone seems to have the best of intentions but nobody is totally sympathetic, and I really liked that the whole novel really lived in that moral grey area.The setting of the story was another highlight It had a vivid sense of place and the descriptions of the natural landscape and the family s homestead were beautifully detailed There were so many small details that still managed to make a big impression and really brought the whole scene to life.I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 3.75 but rounding up Let me begin by saying I don t think the blurb was accurate NOT at all hilarious Certainly some humor, but Definitely a novel about family and independent spirit Also described as a protest novel again, not a conventional protest per se, but an alternate lifestyle way out of the mainstream Populated by strong, stubborn women not necessarily likeable Told in the voices of the main characters Helen Mean Aunt who starts the novel , Lily and Karen partners and their son, Perley via sperm donor Other, peripheral characters one laughs the most at the descriptions of Rudy in particular and Aldi A story of love, persistence, and emotional and physical survival in the hils of Appalachia West Virginia A hardscrabble, basic life by choice Their diet and living conditions appalling I didn t particularly care for the ending, but I m not sure how I would have ended it wanted it done differently.I loved Perley his world of elves and the wolves His naivete His fantasy reality was, however, somewhat offputting because his their lives were to me dysfunctional though it worked for them to a point Poor Perley, so out of sync, insulted isolated He wants to go to school his moms resist, but he goes, at age 7 setting the latter part of the novel in motion.And the snakes who inhabited all the women s and Perley s lives They too have a significant and vivid role in this story Some great descriptions Rudy hairy face so full of sawdust it looked like he d been breaded I smiled to hide my heart, struggling to escape from my chest My cheeks broke ice when they lifted The loneliness was as insulating as a layer of snow rode to work listening to Springsteen, the only boss Jay said he could stand Ha I recommend this book, but it s not for everyone. Hilarious, truth telling The most hilarious thing about this book is Goodreads description of it A rightful heir to great American novels from A Confederacy of Dunces to The Grapes of Wrath to LaRose Ha, not even close That s not to say I didn t eventually get caught up in this unconventional, off the grid family saga But a couple of situations such as the one the social worker walked into on a welfare check were so ridiculous they undermined any chance I had of seeing this as the new understanding of the American landscape and what it means to be free I was led to expect 2 1 2 stars
I received this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways.Let me start by saying that while I enjoyed this book overall and on that in a minute , it isn t exactly how it was first marketed to me The pitch claims it is a humorous book, and sure, there are humorous moments, but I really wouldn t suggest this one to a reader looking for something funny The story also claims to be about Helen and her boyfriend leaving her, but it is much than that, and I think that the reader should go into it thinking little of the boyfriend, because honestly, it seems to do the novel a disservice Really, Stay and Fight is not about a dissolving romance or even about Helen herself, really, for it shifts the spotlight quite a bit , but a growing family Essentially, three very different women come together to raise a child and they meet various other characters along the way while chronicling their struggles through their different voices and views Additionally, their son, Perley, narrates several chapters, and in my opinion, he is far too precocious, but the manner in which Ffitch writes is so unique it is bearable Honestly, this is the main thing that kept me going, because personally, I found all the characters to be quite annoying, and yet, somehow I wanted to stay this is certainly a testament to Ffitch s abilities While this story wasn t my cup of tea, I know it is someone else s, and I would be interested to see what else Ffitch writes. One winter, Rudy got an infection in his testicles while he lay out drunk on coal company land in a one room shack that didn t belong to him Intriguing, quirky beginning I love quirky , this style continued throughout the book, from the character descriptions actions, the lifestyle, and the plot.So I should be a happy camper, right Hmmm a bit disappointed actually Solid 3 star read for me, but it could have been , almost felt unfinished with a slapped on wrap up.I received an ARC from NetGalley and publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. How did Farrar, Straus and Giroux miss the obvious title for this book Snakes in a Shack and settle for the anodyne, Stay and Fight I can t blame Madeline Ffitch for this oversight, because she does her job brilliantly unveiling one of America s most misunderstood cultures Appalachian hillbillies , creating characters that readers will root for, and illustrating the lush, tangled landscape of southeastern Ohio.Helen, a transplant from Washington State, moves to a 20 acre plot for love of a man , she stays there, though, for a love of the land, trying her best to live off the land road kill, wild plants, acorns and record her discoveries in a Best Practices Handbook Joined by Karen and Lily, a lesbian couple raising their son, Perley, outside societal bounds, Helen builds a shack and a lifestyle that sure looks to the reader like dire poverty but proves to be something far .Ffitch s book is no Hillbilly Elegy The poverty of its characters is defiant, intentional, embraced with a fondness for past ways and little hope for the future America flies over the compound in helicopters and offers temporary riches in return for the despoliation of Appalachia The heroines are one with the land to the point that they sleep and live entwined with black snakes.It is a jarring collision with the outside world that will push these women toward confrontation with the law and the natural gas company that will push them to expel in Samuel Jackson s immortal lines these MFing snakes from this MFing shack And Perley, the son of the hills and Friend of Snakes, the boy raised on fantasies of elves and woods, will pursue a quest that will redeem the land and his modern family as well.Full disclosure I grew up in southeastern Ohio on a hill called Tick Ridge Helen s property vividly reminded me of my neighbor s plot growing up, complete with the small, metal trailer When I was seven, I explored the woods just as Perley did I even had my own, hidden cave And while I live now in Tennessee, I m still haunted by a love of Appalachia It s the reason why I selected this book And it s the reason I found it so satisfying to read.Full disclosure I read the book thanks to Net Galley, but these opinions are all my own.Go and buy Stay and Fight.
- 304 pages
- Stay and Fight
- Madeline Ffitch
- 20 September 2018 Madeline Ffitch