Cover Image: Stay and Fight

Stay and Fight

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Member Reviews

This is my first Madeline ffitch book - I am ready to throw my money at the others, to be honest, This book has spirit, personality, and has a voice unlike anything I've read. I've never roughed it out - what do I know about living hard? But these characters, Lily, these characters were amazing. It feels like ffitch holds your eyes open and shows you what matters: family and living with faith.

Love is all.
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I enjoyed Stay and Fight by Madeline Ffitch. It was such a candid look at survival in Ohio in so many ways. The portrayal of the isolation but dedication to family strength was truly inspiring. It was a fairly short read for me, but was a lot of information packed into one novel. A great commentary on empowerment. Not my usual cup of tea.
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This is a remarkable book, one that I would most likely have set aside for its strangeness, but I was so captivated by the characters and how their lives evolved, moving back and forth in an unusual dance, that I could not put it down.

Although I am rarely at a loss for words, I am now. The book is indescribable and must be experienced by the reader. I’ll just say when you have a survivalist young woman who invites a lesbian couple, one very pregnant, onto her virtually uninhabitable land, a half drunk male character who cuts down trees for a living, and a boy child who might be the most remarkable character in modern literature - well, it’s off to the races as these very well created, larger than life people navigate life and everything life can possibly throw at them. 

This is a story of survival living off the grid until the outside world intervenes. 

I received this book as an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley.
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Dark humor laces this gritty novel. ffitch creates a unique world of fierce women in Appalachia. The book centers around age old theme of (wo)man vs. nature and (wo)man vs. self with a twist. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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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!
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A glorious novel about the challenges and beauty of life in untamed Appalachia. I laughed, cried, frowned, shouted my way through this novel. The shifting perspectives were beautifully managed and made the story feel real and raw. Highly recommend. 5/5.
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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.
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A completely unique read melding the themes of IDAHO with the setting and grit of EDUCATED and the unforgettable voice of ROOM (and many others). Told through the perspectives of three strong women living on a plot of land in Appalachia and the small boy they’re raising together. Parents Karen and Lily want to build the family and love they want to see in the world, and Helen - unexpectedly alone and living off the land after her boyfriend abandons his dreams of self sufficiency (and her). The three of them along with an anarchist rusty tree trimmer who pauses his whiskey drinking and ranting long enough to care for this unconventional family, love the land and independence as much as the creative and beautiful son, Perley, being raised on it. Starts slow and at times feels like two novels - one with Helen and Rudy, and another with Karen and Lily - but Perley’s voice and view is perfectly realized and it’s ending is utterly satisfying.
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Stay and Fight is such a remarkable novel. It is filled with very strong characters that I got to know quite intimately because the story is told from alternating points of view of the different characters. It is a story about emotional and physical survival; about family and love; about staying and fighting for who and what you believe in. This is a story worth reading. I highly recommend it. Advance reader copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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This was a book unlike anything I'd ever read, and I loved it.  Each character has such a unique voice, especially Perley, the son who wants to forge his own life and deals with the repercussions of joining society on a more mainstream level.  Helen and Karen are so alike that they can't do anything but argue, and Lily wants nothing more than to be a good parent in the only ways she knows how.

Stay and Fight represents Ohio in a way I've never seen before, focusing on this found family through a separatist lens, through Marxist and feminist lenses, and more.  Ffitch does an incredible job of describing what likely most of us have never experienced--roughing it, and I mean really roughing it for years, as though they were survivalists.  They learn to homestead, to farm, to take care of the snakes.  They argue, they fight, they love each other.  

Each bit of this novel is so believable, especially the love Lily has for her son, especially CPS' actions, especially Karen's need to run away to come back.  This is a novel filled to the brim with strong characters, in personality, voice, and tone.  Ffitch has certainly created a modern-day masterpiece juxtaposing the need for truly simple living and the status quo of mainstream media-focused society.
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Stay and Fight
By: Madeline Ffitch
This hilarious, truth-telling debut upends notions of family, protest, and Appalachia, and forces us to reimagine an America we think we know

Helen arrives in Appalachian Ohio full of love and eager to carry out her boyfriend’s ideas for living off the land. Too soon, with winter coming, her boyfriend calls it quits. Helped by Rudy, her government-questioning, wisdom-spouting, seasonal-affective-disordered boss, and a neighbor couple, Helen makes it to spring. But Karen and Lily are expecting their first child, a boy, which means their time at the Women’s Land Trust is over. So 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. Soon, the outside world is brought clamoring into their makeshift family.

Set in a region known for its independent spirit, Madeline ffitch’s 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 the viability of strategic action. It is a family novel that refuses to limit the possibilities of love. And it is a debut that both breaks with tradition and celebrates it.

A rightful heir to great American novels from A Confederacy of Dunces to The Grapes of Wrath to LaRose, Stay and Fight takes you, laughing and thinking, into a new understanding of the American landscape and what it means to be free.
Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of the book.
What a beautiful read. Full of humor and a bit of hard reality. I was invested all the way with the characters. Helen is a tough lady which moves along day by day. She becomes close to the crew of folks and spoilers.  I truly enjoyed the journey and Quitters never win.
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This was such a unique novel. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but I was completely wrong. The story is told from alternating points of view – Helen, Lily, Karen, and then later Lily and Karen’s son, Perley. It’s a story of survival – not just physical, but emotional. It’s a story of love and family, and what defines a family. Parts of the story made me laugh, and other times I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room.  The language is often crude and although at times it seems excessive, it’s also necessary to the story and to the characters. I feel compelled to issue a trigger warning as there are frequent slurs used regarding homosexuality and the discrimination against homosexuals and Native Americans by some of the minor characters. The characters are well developed and they felt real. The ending was not what I expected, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. This book is definitely worth reading.

I received this electronic ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow-- though relatively short, I feel like I have traveled on a long, valuable journey with this gritty novel spanning several years. The reader comes to know each character intimately and feels part of their unconventional community rooted in their anti-establishment sentiments and in their fierce desires for self-reliance and uncultivated wildness. As the title suggests, this book is all about doggedly staying and fighting for what--and most especially who--you believe in. Lily, one of the protagonists, says it so well in her observation that encapsulates the spirit of the novel: "leaving is nothing special. Leaving is just leaving. Staying is the hard thing."
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