Stay With Me by Sandra Rodriguez Barron
Publication Date: November 2010
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers
Genre: General Fiction
(Received for review from TLC Tours)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Borders, IndieBound
Author's Website: www.sandrarodriguezbarron.com
Author's Facebook: Click HERE!
Synopsis (Book Blurb):
Thirty years ago, five toddlers were found alone in a luxury boat tied up to a dock in Puerto Rico after a devastating hurricane. No one knew who they were or where they came from. Now adults, raised by different families but connected by a special bond, David, Taina, Holly, Adrian, and Raymond have always considered themselves siblings, even if their blood relations were unknown. When David is diagnosed with a an aggressive form of brain cancer, the five brother sand sisters meet at Griswold Island of the coat of Connecticut at the family home of Davids's ex-girlfriend, Julia, a woman whose own deeply rooted family tree is a direct opposite to the sibling's hidden beginnings. However, while David's siblings think the trip is just a chance to spend quality time with David and help him get his mind off the disease, David as an ulterior motive for planning the vacation: The brain tumor has triggered flashbacks to the time before the hurricane and prompted a strong desire in David to find out the truth of their origins. He's determined to find out if they are siblings in blood as well as heart and the circumstances behind what happened to them those many years ago. The gathering is the first time they are all able to share and document the wisps of fading memory, all of it conflicting, all of it charged with emotional attachments to whatever truth they have each come to embrace.
Author Sandra Rodriguez Barron brings us a novel about family, relationships, intimacy and the history that makes a person who they are. Barron is able to give a reader a sense atmosphere that's missing in a lot of novels. This book has a little bit of everything from mystery to romance. Readers will be enthralled by the story of the five abandoned babies and want to know what happened to them.
David, Taina, Holly, Adrian and Raymond were found abandoned on a boat in Puerto Rico after a hurricane. The become known as the Starfish Children because of the faded drawing of a starfish on the hand of each child. Though the case is investigated no one ever comes forward to claim the children and they are given to different families and raised apart, though they have a strong bond and consider themselves siblings. When David is diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer the "siblings" come together for a vacation off the coast of Connecticut in the Thimble Islands. David has been having flashbacks of the time before the hurricane and he intends to bring them together to see if they can figure out what really happened.
Sandra Barron gives us a cast of characters that have a lot of emotional issues. They are quite dysfunctional, which is typical of most families. David is struggling with not only cancer, but commitment issues. Taina's fear of intimacy is bringing her relationship to the breaking point. Holly wants a daughter more than anything, though she has three sons, it just isn't enough. Adrian doesn't face his issues, he hides them behind is rising star and doesn't get close to anyone. Raymond is an alcoholic with a lonely life. Readers are left to wonder if all of this transpired because of their lack of family connections or if it would have happened regardless. I enjoyed finding out about each character and how their early life defines how their future turns out.
This book really focuses on how the relationships we have with our families and how they define us. Make us who we are. The characters were very well fleshed out and I felt like I really knew a lot about them when the book was finished. If you are looking for a book mostly centered on the mystery of what caused the children to be left alone on that boat, you will be in for a surprise, because that really isn't the focus. Intimacy and relationships are more important to the story. It is driven by these relationships and not the mystery, though we are given a satisfying conclusion to part of the book as well.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy books with a lot of atmosphere and stories that focused on the people themselves. Mystery readers will also like this book, though it is not the central theme of the book. I really liked this one a lot and I think there is a real audience out there for this kind of book. Barron does an excellent job with character development and plotting, the mystery elements were good and gave the reader something to look forward to at the end, along with the sorting out of the emotional issues of the characters.
Stay With Me is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Sandra Rodriguez Barron is the author of The Heiress of Water, winner of the International Latino Book Award for debut fiction. She was born in Puerto Rico and has lived in the Dominican Republic and El Salvador. She has a MFA from Florida International University. The recipient of a Bread Loaf Fellowship and a National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Grant, she now lives with her family in Connecticut.