Make it Stay by Joan Frank

Make It StayMake it Stay by Joan Frank
Published by The Permanent Press
Review copy provided by the publisher in conjunction with TLC Book Tours

Married couple Rachel and Neil are preparing dinner for some friends one evening in their home in Southern California when Neil decides to tell Rachel the backstory of their dinner guests, the Spenders. Mike and Tilda Spender have led an extremely strange life, with Mike deceiving Tilda for years, Tilda raging against him when she discovered his betrayal, and in the middle of it all they somehow produced a beautiful, intelligent daughter named Addie. As Rachel hears the truth about these people she’s known for years, she realizes that their catastrophic lives may actually affect her own marriage and future.

Make it Stay has quite an interesting structure to it – the book is almost a story within a story. We have the present-day Rachel and Neil, and then we have the entire history of Mike and Tilda’s marriage, Neil’s friendship to the two of them, and how everything that happened in the past brings us back to the present-day. It is a unique way to tell a story, but I do think that in this case, it worked. I remained engaged with Rachel and Neil as characters while also feeling the need to find out more about Mike and Tilda’s history.

These characters are not people I would want to ever be friends with. Mike and Tilda are truly not nice people, they are incredibly strange individuals, especially Tilda, and Mike is simply a deceitful person. I really didn’t like them at all and I couldn’t help but wonder why Neil and Rachel had continued this friendship with them over the years. Unfortunately, I felt that I didn’t get to know Neil and Rachel very well throughout the book, as it was so focused on Mike and Tilda. That’s quite a shame, honestly, because what I did get from Neil and Rachel is that, although they definitely are not perfect, they seemed like lovely people and I was interested in understanding them better. This is a short book, though, and most of the meat of the story is spent on Mike and Tilda’s story.

While I enjoyed Make it Stay while I was reading it, I have to admit that ultimately I found it forgettable. Not that it’s a bad book or that I didn’t like it by any means, just that I can tell this isn’t going to be one of the novels that will stick with me for very long. But I did really enjoy the writing and the structure, so I would be open to reading something more by this author. Would I recommend Make it Stay? I’m not really sure. I liked it well enough but for me there wasn’t that special something that really makes a novel. If you’re interested in the unique structure of this book as well as Frank’s ability to make me continue reading about characters I hate, go for it. Otherwise, maybe choose a different novel instead.