Cover Image: Stay and Fight

Stay and Fight

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Member Reviews

This book had an interesting description, and I've seen a lot of nice reviews, but unfortunately, I could not get into it. I didn't finish reading it, but I would recommend for those on the lookout for a different, new voice.
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What a great story! This is an awesome book about adversity and the struggle of life that quite a bit of the country goes through.
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This book had an interesting premise and was praised a lot online and  I thought I should give it a shot. It was not my cup of tea unfortunately, the narrative style did not endear it to me. I was unable to completely read the book and therefore cannot review it on social media but it is definitely for people on the lookout for a different read.
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Rich with description and strong character development. Stay and Fight comments on society in a way that many other novels have only been able to attempt to do so. Recommend!
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Stay and Fight is one of those odd books that make themselves so very difficult to review, by way of being incredibly good and incredibly hard to pin down to why. 

It's not going to be for everyone - the book kicks off with the story of a man who almost let his p*nis rot off one winter rather than see a doctor, and that's most likely the best way to let readers sort out for themselves whether they'd like to read this book or not. But it's really a book about three women who learn who they are and how to stand up for that, and for each other.

We rotate point of view among all three, and the author does a truly magnificent job of keeping the voices distinct. I could close my eyes, pick a page at random, and be able to tell you whose chapter this was, without hesitation. And they're all very real - flaws and quirks that make them feel truly human, will never putting me off by taking them too far. 

It's an odd little book, this, but an enjoyable one, and definitely something I'd prescribe for a book slump.
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Literary fiction at its best.Unlikeable characters that drew me in made me continue reading about their lives survival relationships.A well written book about complicated characters.#netgalley #fsg
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Well, this is different. Quirky, with a capital “Q”. And I liked it. Stay and Fight is about a makeshift family in Appalachian Ohio that gets together basically in order to help each other out. Two lesbians and their infant son have to leave their cabin in The Women’s Land Trust because of the sex of their baby. They come together with Helen, a woman stuck on a piece of rural land, dumped by her boyfriend. They build a house the best they can and for the most part live off the land with a clan of non-rent-paying black snakes, oh my!

The baby, Perley, is quite the boy. By age 7, though he still has quite the imagination with child-like thoughts and dreams, he has developed wisdom far beyond his years. Life is not easy for this family. They struggle mightily, not only for survival, but with each other. We are along for the journey as they persevere and make the best of whatever opportunities come their way. There are several supporting characters that are also hard up and show us in many different ways how they deal with all the adversity thrown at them. Some handle it well, others do not. There are so many wonderful themes in this story-- the third paragraph of the official blurb describes these more beautifully than I can. 

Initially, I couldn’t figure out where this story was going (I had forgotten the blurb that I had read weeks previously). In fact, early on, I had some intrusive thoughts of DNF’ing it, something I rarely do. This cost the novel a star. But I pushed on and before long, I was totally engrossed and finished the last 55% in 2 days—fast for me. There was a lot going on at the end. At 95% there was so much to resolve that I wondered if the author was going to pull a cliffhanger, something that would have cost her at least another star. But, amazingly, the last 5% was beautifully done and provided a very satisfying ending. The last sentence brought goosebumps! 

I highly recommend Stay and Fight (a most appropriate title) to everyone looking for a quirky, yet poignant, character-driven tale of adversity. The writing is beautiful, and the characters just burst off the pages. I will definitely look for more from Ms. Ffitch.

Thank you Net Galley; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and Ms. Madeline Ffitch for an advanced review copy. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
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The title of this book fits so well. 

What attracted me to this book was the aspect of self-reliance and living off the land.  At several points I considered not continuing because the three main women characters do fight. I didn't like them, nor the arguing. This is not the easiest book to read. But the young boy, Perley, I loved his character and I stuck with it. In the end the book paid off. I'm happy to have stayed with the book.
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Helen and her boyfriend move to Appalachian Ohio to live off the land. They buy a piece of land and live in a tiny camper but soon after, Helen’s boyfriend leaves. 

Karen and Lily are living at the Women’s Land Trust but are in search of a new place to live because they are expecting a baby boy. 

Knowing that Karen and Lily are in need of a new place to live and have little money, Helen offers up her land. They can split the work/food, build a house, and live off the land. This seems to go semi-okay until Karen and Lily’s son, Perley, decides to go to school. 

The description states that this book will have us “laughing” but I didn’t laugh once. To me this book was actually heartbreaking.  Overall this was an alright story about family, communal living, being a parent, and challenging societal norms.

Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
I have mixed feelings about the book and how it was marketed to me. I was prepared for a gritty setting in West Virginia's Appalachia when a woman and her boyfriend buy 20 acres and plan to live off the lad.  The boyfriend bolts pretty quickly and his girlfriend befriends a homeless lesbian couple, one of whom is pregnant. She persuades them to move onto her property and band together. Thus begins a humorless spiral into a situation of survival, rebellion, living off grid boosted by three strong, stubborn women, none of whom have any experience in primitive survival. I didn't find the women likeable and they were sorely lacking in humor. The way they lived and raised the child was appalling. He was the most interesting character and displayed wisdom beyond his young years. There's a lot of arguing and dysfunction which left me unsettled.
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I found the story and characters highly relatable. This is a unique and entertaining book. Highly recommended.
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This book will not be for everyone, but I think it was a great story. Well told by the voices of the characters, it tells the story of friendship, love, loyalty and determination. 
The characters are messed up, though. They cannot see that living in a house, that they built with all kind of mistakes, is ignorant. They don’t see that having snakes in the house and their bed is crazy!  Despite being freaked out reading about their stupidity I liked this book and I loved the ending. 

If you don’t like love stories with lesbians, that would be the only reason not to read this book.
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"Stay and Fight" by Madeline Ffitch is the story of Helen, who moves to Appalachia with her boyfriend,  The boyfriend quickly discovered that he wasn't cut out for such rough living, but Helen stayed and barely survived her first winter on her own.  Compelled by a mutual need for housing, a lesbian couple and their infant son Perley moved in with Helen.  What follows is a story filled with strong women, love, family, perseverance...and snakes.  

The writing is very descriptive and I particularly enjoyed the chapters that are told from Perley's point of view.  The characters come alive and remind me of my own experiences with the people of Appalachia.  I did not find this book to be particularly humorous, and do not understand why it is marketed as such, but I did find it to be entertaining and engaging.  

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the privilege of reading and reviewing this book.
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This book was very interesting. The writing style was amazing, and the plot was just a little bit different from the norm. I loved it! I can't wait to pick up another book by her!
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It's hard to start the review for Stay and Fight. It's one of those books you feel is not merely just a book, just a story. It's so large it encompasses universes. Mindsets. Ideas. It's so weird, but also so real, you're simply sucked in. I was charmed and entranced by this book. My moods shifted along with the events in it. It was a journey.

It's About...

Helen is left with no place to call home after her boyfriend leaves her in the middle of the Appalanchian forest. Well, apart from the trailer. But Helen won't leave – no, you don't beat her down just like that. So she builds from what she's got – misfits like her with no place to go – Karen, Lily and Rudy, crooked walls and ceilings, survival dice. It's a ragtag kind of life, but it's a life.But the thing is... Living in a different way often upsets people. Proper people. In part, Stay and Fight is about that. But it's also about so much more than that.

Women, Hippies, Minorities – But Not The Way You're Used To Reading About Them

Stay and Fight is largely a woman's book, written in a somewhat rugged, manly style, which gives it a nice contrast and freshness. This has incredible charm, and especially because it paints a picture of some really strong women – women who can build a house, have a baby inside that that house – just the two of them, build and maintain a garden, skin animals, wrangle power tools and cut trees. They hunt. They dig holes and haul lumber, with a baby strapped to their backs... They survive. They protect. These are women of nature, women who actually don't need any man to survive. These are the women who brought us here, up to the 21st century. Goddesses of power! Irresistible power.

But don't expect them to glorify it. They're just living their lives. They're just trying to live in a way where people leave them alone. Because they're different, because they're queer, because they want to live like our great grandparents lived – without the plastic imitation of happiness. Off the land, even if it means struggling. And especially because it means freedom. Freedom from the lifestyle we all seemingly choose, and freedom from the people who will enforce this lifestyle on everyone else who wants to live another way.

It's A Peek Into A Life You'll Probably Never Live

Charged up and electrifying, rough and brutal, motivating and inspiring, Stay and Fight is also rather realistic. The life you're reading about is admittedly incredibly weird to the 21st century person – people getting their food mostly from the forest, killing animals for food, not buying things when they don't have to. It's rebellious and it's just something we can't imagine anymore. And as you read, you are surrounded by this incredibly different kind of life.

But this kind of life isn't idealized. I'm only saying this, because a lot of raw vegan movements and such tend to claim that their karma is clean and they basically fart rainbows. Well, this isn't one of those books. These people are not "one with nature". To be a part of nature, you have to earn your keep – if you decide to leave the safety of the jungle of concrete. They struggle, but they know why they're doing it. And reading about it might be weird to you, while you're still in your concrete jungle, but you can't help being engrossed in this story. It's people just like you, but at the same time, it's so incredibly otherworldly. The takeaway here being, that it's people just like you. And that your way isn't the only way.

The Otherness That We Humans Can't Accept

A big theme of Stay and Fight is the otherness of strange people's lives and how we are completely not open to other ways of living – how we'll judge, how we'll make them change simply because we don't like it – and not because it's essentially not good. It goes as far as making even your spouse adopt your lifestyle. Controlling the way they live without intending to – it's just that if they want to live with you, that's the way they'll have to live. Without thinking of the other person's needs. The book is written in different perspectives that give you insights into the situation, so you see the crushing extent of this phenomenon. It's done very well, because you can't seem to decide who you think is right after all. They all make a compelling argument. And isn't this how life is? Everyone always thinks they're right, when none of them are, really. Stay and Fight illustrates a situation like that so well. It's just part of life.

There's Beauty In Reading About People Whose Lives Aren't Photoshopped

As I've already mentioned, life is portrayed as it actually is, and maybe even rougher in Stay and Fight (because it probably is so in Appalachia!) I loved seeing a rugged, real world – I'm so tired of the sterile futures painted in pre-2010 scifis and contemporaries. I want to see women who grow hair on their legs. I want to see women who bleed and hurt during childbirth. I want to see women who sweat and who fight. I am tired of seeing city dwellers with perfectly coiffed hair and fake nails. I want real humans.

Which is why reading about Lily, Karen and Helen was refreshing. Not only are they different, uncaring about any beauty standards or even society standards. Their virtues are different. They don't care what the others will say. They are practical, they know what matters to them if they want to live life the way they want it.

But You're Not Allowed To Be Different, Remember?

A lot of the book is just the stories of these women, but there's a lot besides that which is just there to bring attention to how unfair the world (in this case, America) actually is. If you're rich, you're probably fine. If you're a man, you're probably fine. If you're a woman, god forbid queer, and if you're a racial minority, then you're in trouble. It doesn't matter how you'll want to live your life. You'll be punished for the crimes done to you. Nobody's out there to protect you. And if you somehow don't measure up to the model of life they want you to live, tough luck. They'll force you into it. Or it into you. As long as you're not you anymore. As long as you don't shame them with your existence.

This is the part of the book that broke my heart. Families are policed. Love is policed. Friendships are policed. Even if your way of living in a family, your way of loving doesn't hurt anyone, it will be broken up if it doesn't fit the mold. It's an incredibly relevant topic still in the 21st century. I don't want to spoil the book, so I'll just say that it's a huge thing – children and how the government thinks there's only ONE way to raise them. And only one kind of family. One with, to loosely quote, "a man, a woman and children all alike". The state is blind to any other kind of family. And sad to say, many states and countries are. I believe it's even worse in my part of the world than the one this book is about.

Stay and Fight is a huge book. It's an act of love as much as it is an act of rebellion. Whiteness, privilege, power – and poverty – all defining factors of a lot of people's fates. Limitations that are needeless – refusing to understand other people's choices, labeling someone as man or woman, refusing to accept anything but the idea of a biological family – all of these are things tearing us apart, and this is what the book is trying to illustrate. Sometimes we choose the freedom, and sometimes a certain freedom is the only kind we can choose. Stay and Fight is a wonderful book, spanning so many themes, such as family, love, being different, living off the land and being completely self-sufficient, braving it out – and that's far from being all of it. I can only urge you to grab the book and see it all for yourself. It's unforgettable.

Triggers

There are quite a few triggers, but since I can't do spoiler tags here, please check out the review on my blog or Goodreads for the triggers.

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.
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Off the grid has been a popular theme in novels this year.  This one is unique in that it gives you the perspective of three women and one young boy.  Helen followed a boyfriend to and then bought land in rural Appalachia.  He left before winter.  She makes friends with Karen and Lily, a couple who are expecting a child, Perley.  The three of them throw their lot in together- creating a fractious but entertaining family.  Karen and Lily bicker, Helen is known as Mean Aunt, but all three dote on Perley.  This is not an easy life- there is no electricity, no running water, no toilet, and the decision to buy food in town is made with the roll of the dice, meaning that they often dine on acorn mush.  And roadkill.  Things change drastically when Perley, at the age of 7, goes to school and suddenly the family is under scrutiny.  A snake bite (know that black snakes figure prominently in this) leads to disaster and everyone must figure out what to do next.  There are great characters here- not just the main ones but also Rudy, with whom Helen works, and Aldi, the public defender.  This wavers a bit near the end when Karen goes to work on the pipeline which will transport fracked oil; the scenes with the crew, while sort of interesting, were irrelevant to the rest of the story.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. The writing is clear, the story well told- an excellent read.
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Not my cup of tea. Even if I loved the style of writing and the author can surely write I couldn't connect to the characters and the book fell flat.
Not my cup of tea.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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A few chapters into the story and I felt like the marketing for this book was a little off. I received an ARC at the beginning of the year and to that time, I was expecting something different. Nevertheless, I kept reading and actually found myself laughing about the humor and actions taken by the characters. It doesn't necessarily focus on Helen alone but also on the lesbian couple and their baby she invited into her home, after her boyfriend left. It tells the story of strangers becoming family, raising a child together, fighting and rebelling the system in odd ways. The characters are stubborn, quirky, quite annoying actually. The dysfunctional dynamic between them pushed them to make frustratingly decisions. Survival dice? This unconventional get together and sleeping with snakes really put me off as well. The parts from the point of view of the kid were irritating to read. As precious as he seems, the lack of punctuation really bothered me. This stylistic choice worked only in short portions for me. In general, the writing is really good and reads fluidly once you get used to it. Side-character hillbilly Rudy is probably the most fun character in this story. While the women seem to be blind and dumb about the situation they are in, as drunk Rudy sometimes seems, he probably was the sanest of them all.
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I'm not really sure what to say about this book, to be honest! By the end, I grew to really appreciate each of the characters and what they brought to the story. Three women come together living mostly off the grid... and they have a child to raise. The story is told from each of their points of view, including the child's, once he's older. They live differently than the majority of modern society and that's inevitably where things get tricky for this unique family. Do the three women love the child and want what's best for him? I really think they do. Do they make choices with regards to the child that don't jive with modern society? Yes, yes they do. It's such an interesting look at a way of life so hard to understand and so different from my own. I guess what I really mean to say is, what a fascinating story!
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"Stay and Fight" is a novel about family. It's also about protesting societal norms and government restrictions.
 While the characters are flawed, they're also real and loyal, and I liked that. I never really connected emotionally to any of them, though, and felt like I was on the outside looking in. 
I also appreciated the honest look at Appalachian Ohio and the frustrations that accompany being poor and misunderstood. I definitely did not like all the distracting and unnecessary F-words, though. 
In my opinion, "Stay and Fight" is an okay novel with important themes. But I finished it out of obligation and would not recommend it to other readers.
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