Book Review: "Stay With Me" by Sandra Rodriguez Barron

In 1979, five toddlers were found alone in a luxury boat tied to a dock in Puerto Rico after a devastating hurricane. No one knew who they were or where they came from. Raised by different families, they remained connected by a special bond—always considering themselves siblings, despite their unknown blood relations.

Now adults, Taina, Holly, Adrian, and Raymond have been summoned by the fifth, David, to an island off the coast of Connecticut and the family home of David's ex-girlfriend, Julia. But along with the joy of reuniting comes the exposure of raw places, jealousy, and childhood sorrows. Having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer—and experiencing flashbacks to the time before the hurricane—David believes that healing his relationship with Julia and discovering his origins will strengthen his ability to endure and survive. David pushes the people he loves the most to their emotional breaking points in order to uncover the truth about the mystery that both unites and divides them.

This is a sweeping saga of a family that is condensed into one story. The former five orphans are connected together due to a tragic event that created a bond that goes deeper than blood. Three brothers and two sisters find themselves reunited when one of them learns that they have only a short time left to live. I was worried at first that this might turn out to be a story full of drama fit for a soap opera. Instead what I found was a intricate character study into the lives of a unusual family that defines itself not by blood but by love.

I found myself being pulled into the story and not wanting it to end. At first I thought it would be difficult to keep track of everyone because of the multiple characters in the story. However each character is so distinct that I was able to find each voice to be unique. Also because only one character (David) has his story told in first person, it was easier to follow the narrative. The mystery of how the five got together keeps the story going as it is not revealed until the very end. The reader as well as the characters are kept in suspense, allowing for great depth of the personalities to be put on full display instead. It almost becomes an afterthought because the relationships of the family is more important. If there's anything that I could complain about is that I felt that some characters didn't get enough attention as others did. While their personalities are easy to distinguish, I just didn't feel as if I got to know them as well as others.

Overall, I found this to be a fascinating read. It's a wonderful story about the power of love and family. Family does not necessarily mean that you have to be connected by blood. Just being there for each other through the good and the bad times can create a stronger bond than some actual brothers and sisters will ever have. Barron's story is one that will be able to stand the test of time as it contains a story that will never grow old or outdated. This is a fantastic and emotional read. I look forward to reading more books from this author.

Stay With Me by Sandra Rodriguez Barron is published by Harper (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher


  1. ooh this looks like one I will definitely want to read...thank you so much; I hadn't heard of it. Love the family sagas!


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