Cover Image: Stay and Fight

Stay and Fight

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Member Reviews

This is the story of three women who are uncompromising in their approach to life.  Each is determined to live life as she wants, beholden to no bureaucracy nor expectations of others.  Karen, Lily, and Helen create a family together on their own terms, choosing unconventional paths, shunning society's ways, and creating an off-the-grid lifestyle that is grueling at best.  They are often at loggerheads with each other, but when Lily bears a son, Perley, they become united in their devotion to him, even though it takes different forms.  Not surprisingly, the community at large does not understand the women's approach, and an inevitable conflict arises, causing them all considerable hardship.  In this novel of resilience, non-conformity, friendship and family, ffitch has described characters and a world that may be alien to many of us at the same time we are sympathetic to them.
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I tried to pick this book up a few times, but I can't get into it at all.
I didn't really care for any of the main characters and I found it a bit too slow for my liking.

Although this book isn't for me, thank you FSG and Netgalley for providing me with an eARC.
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DNF This book just isn't for me. I was not engaged with the characters or their story at all. I didn't like any of the main characters though the rough and tumble side character wasn't bad.
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I began this book twice before I actually got into it.  The first time I started it I thought it was pretty bazaar and put it down.  The second time I picked it up was better timing, it grabbed me and didn’t let go.  I’m so glad I gave it a second chance.

This is the most original book I’ve read in a long time.  Although not very likable, all the characters were well done, original, eccentric and memorable.  The author must have one vivid imagination!  She has created a circus of complex characters and joins them together to make this Appalachian story a grabber and gets the reader completely invested.

The book was so good it deserved a much better ending.  The end left the reader wanting and wondering.  I also read another review that said the snakes had a particular significance, I didn’t get that.  The story is told in alternating four/five points of view if you count Rudy.

If you want to read a book with unique characters that come together in a struggle to live a free ungoverned life in their own way on their own terms, you’ll love this book.

Engrossing, loved it!
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I'll be honest, I was a little confused by this book. First off, it is nothing at all like the description implies. It's more a family drama type novel. A weird, dysfunctional family drama.  I was left feeling "meh". I didn't dislike it, but I also didn't like it either. 

There must be something going around the writing world that says multiple character POV chapters and ambiguous endings are the way to go. I hate it, and I didn't particularly think it was well done in this case. The writing was fine, the story was find, in general everything was just fine. This book was just not my cup of tea. For those readers who enjoy an nontraditional,quirky writing style, this is for you. Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC for review.
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Wow. This was a bit of a slow start for me but it became totally engrossing and I was hooked. 

Loved everything about this book. The setting, the characters, the writing, everything. This book is not a feel good tale but one of those so bleak it hurts books. Perley was amazing. Rudy was fantastic. 

This was my first time reading Madeline Ffitch but it will not be the last. 

Honestly I would like to see this adapted for tv. 

My copy was provided by NetGalley for review all opinions are my own.
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It begins as the least post-apocalyptic novel among the post-apocalyptic novels, continues as a rural survivalistic story where where we are asked to re-learning how to survive in adverse conditions, and ends as a delicate coming-of-age tale that wonders what it means to be human beings and to build a community in which we can live truly together. Excellent.
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Thank you, NetGalley and FSG, for the advanced review copy of this book! It will be published on July 9th, 2019.

I requested and read this book on the recommendation of a good friend who really knows books, and she did not let me down. I’m still mulling this one over. It was an introspective, deep novel about family, independence, identity, and love.

There are four main characters: Helen, who moved to Appalachia with her boyfriend (he left; she stayed); Lily and Karen, domestic partners who live simply, Lily a mother type and Karen a provider type; and Perley, Lily and Karen’s son. There’s also Rudy, their crude but loyal friend and Helen’s employer, but he doesn’t ever narrate as the others do.

After Helen’s boyfriend decides to leave, she continues to live on the land they paid for together in Helen’s name. After her first winter in complete isolation, learning to live off the land (literally), she invites Lily and Karen to join her on her land and build a home together. Over the years, they become a (very dysfunctional) family. Then a lonely Perley decides he wants to go to school, and it brings the outside world in — and not really in a good way.

One of the best parts of this novel was Perley’s point of view. His chapters were fascinating and beautiful. They’re written the way children seem to think, in run-on sentences that flip-flop between both childish and adult-like thoughts and emotions. He is so innocent, so heartbreaking, so wise. I could have read the entire novel through his eyes and been perfectly happy to do so.

Alas, Perley probably has the fewest chapters of all of them. But the way we meander through POV lenses, we get to really understand that the way these characters perceive themselves is rarely, or never exactly, how the other characters perceive them. Which is pretty profound in its effect.

There’s something deeply American in this book, and something that gets to the heart of agency and independence. Something that resonates really deeply, although I’m still trying to pinpoint what, exactly, that something is.

If you read it and figure it out, let me know.
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4.5 stars.  This is such a interesting novel. Told by four different perspectives, it follows an unconventional group of people who form a family in the woods of Appalachia.  What is so interesting about this book is that it is so detailed of place, plot, characters but so vague about time.  It took half the novel before I figured out what decade this take place.  It is beautifully written and each character has such a unique and fascinating perspective.  I thought the ending a little weak but everything up to that point was so good.  I received an ARC of this book through the Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.
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I liked this; it featured a cast of interesting and quite complex characters, and kept my attention throughout.  This is the first work of ffitch's which I have read, but I will definitely keep an eye out for her in future.
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I requested Stay and Fight because it is set in rural Appalachia, a region that I grew up in.  I got a definite Hillbilly Elegy vibe from this one, a niggling disappointment that readers might extrapolate from this book that this is the stubborn and meager way that everyone lives and behaves in that part of the country.  The blurb suggests that there is humor in this book, but I found it to be quite humorless.
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This book is beautifully written and the author is talented! That said, i could NOT get into it and had to abandon it before finishing. Not for me.
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"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 more, almost felt unfinished with a slapped on wrap up.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Madeline Fitch has written a pretty cohesive novel and her writing style is not something I have experienced before. 
There was a lot to like about this book but I did not enjoy the storyline as much as I thought I would. Somewhere along the lines, I lost the real meaning behind the novel. 

This book is for someone who is looking for a deeper meaning within the text that may not be so obvious at first. Perfect novel for summer reading.
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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 more.

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.
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When you finish reading a book and your heart tells you that it was absolutely a 5 star read, there’s simply no denying it!
‘Stay and Fight’ tells the story of Helen, who moves to Appalachia with her boyfriend who quickly learns that living ‘wild’ on a patch of land in a camper isn’t for him. He scarpers, leaving Helen to fend for herself through a tough winter. After holing herself up in the camper all winter she finally buds and blossoms in Spring. She hatches a plan and invites a gay couple who live nearby to live with her. They are expecting a baby and they know the baby can’t live with them where they are now, so it’s convenient for all.
The book is told from the POV of four central characters: Helen, Karen (Mama K), Lily (Mama L) and Perley (little boy/wolf/elf). This really worked for me and I totally connected with each character in really unique ways, empathising with their own internal battles and their own day-to-day struggles. The chapters from each persons POV were long and in depth which doesn’t always work for me but on this occasion I got totally absorbed in their world and didn’t even really notice.

Madeline Ffitch has such a beautiful way of writing. I loved the way she developed all of the characters to have their own unique persona (sounds basic but is often badly done) and I really enjoyed her exploration of some really timely issues.
I honestly don’t feel in a position to comment on the book’s ability to reflect what it’s really like to live in Appalachia because it’s not a place I’ve ever been or lived in. But her discussion about the ways in which people live, what is ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of the state versus what is acceptable in the eyes of the people, and the ‘interference’ of the state in certain issues... these are all topics which interest me and which I found spring up within this book.

It is such a beautifully written, thought provoking book! I picked this on netgalley due to its setting in Appalachia. It hits #4 on the reading women 2019 checklist, so I thought it was a sure fire winner. I didn’t expect to have a book hangover from hell and find myself completely lost in Appalachia. So thank you Madeline Ffinch for that. I’m off to seek out any other pieces of her writing I can find. It looks like this has been her first novel. If anybody knows any different, please send me your recommendations. I’ll be anxiously awaiting her next release. 

Thank you to netgalley and fsgbooks for the free book in exchange for an honest review.
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I have never read a book like this, and I enjoyed it! Looking back at the description of it, I would disagree that it is hilarious. I didn't really laugh at all and found the characters deep, somewhat unlikable, but I still enjoyed the way it all played together. 
Set in Appalachia at the peak of fracking times, a lesbian couple fights to keep their son who was raised with them, "mean aunt" who gave them a place to live, and the cantankerous "uncle" who is living on the land near the pipeline. Snakes live in the house as well, as they are hard to get rid of. When Perley, the boy, gets a snakebite, the school takes action and he is removed from the only home he's ever known due to neglect and conditions. 
I imagine this book being like the movie "Leave No Trace" where a family is doing fine on their own, living off land and off grid - and the "establishment" comes in to enforce their rules and ways of being a family. 
However, throughout the tale, I am torn about what is truly best for Perley. Is he really being taken care of, or is he just surviving? The whole book was really thought provoking, it was hard to put down. 
I wasn't completely satisified with the ending, as it left some things open to interpretation and I'm more of a "ok, it's complete" kinda gal, but I saw it coming and it makes sense to end it that way. 
A great read, very enjoyable.
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Dark humor is weaved throughout this novel. It was different and interesting. The characters are dynamic and become a family in their own right. In some ways it reminded me of Educated, living off the land and finding your own way.
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A real quick read but a good read nevertheless. I expected more humor but liked the book anyhow. The storyline was different.
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Let me start by saying that while I enjoyed this book overall (and more 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 more 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.
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