If Only You Stayed

Romance - Contemporary
460 Pages
Reviewed on 07/13/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite

If Only You Stayed by Callie Ann Frey is a dramatic and romantic tale that features the style of narrative poetry. It’s a story that moves from crisis to crisis as seventeen-year-old Skye Hartman is spending her senior year in high school while her boyfriend is off to England to pursue his college education. This separation weighs heavily on Skye’s heart, as expressed in the opening poem, One Last Goodbye, as part of the first chapter. Life plays another cruel trick on Skye when her boyfriend is involved in an accident that causes him to suffer from amnesia. Skye has an ardent desire to see her boyfriend become himself once again, someday. As she helps him recuperate and find his way back to recovering his memory, a dashing French student shows up in Skye’s life.

Although If Only You Stayed is not perfect, I would still recommend it. Callie Ann Frey is one of a rare breed of authors who have the imagination and audacity to write her young adult tale in narrative poetry - a rare feat for contemporary authors of young adult fiction that is saturated with romance. What flows from her pen is highly original, something that helps to revive a classical form of storytelling that many young readers may find daunting or intimidating. Sustained by a solid romantic plot, Frey provides her target audience with the opportunity to get acquainted with narrative poetry and fully engage them in the reading process. Frey's verses are evocative enough to awaken your senses and make you establish connections to think critically and feel empathy for the characters. It’s a must-read.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

If Only You Stayed by Callie Ann Frey begins when Schuyler, or “Skye”, laments as her boyfriend leaves to attend school in England. They love each other deeply, and she is horrified when she receives news that his plane has crashed. Her boyfriend lives, but he develops amnesia, and the doctors are uncertain when, or if, he will recover his memory. Skye is convinced that she can regain her boyfriend’s love, but his lack of memory wears on her. When a new boy from Canada shows interest in her, Skye’s emotions tumble, and she wonders if she should try something new with her Canadian love interest, Louis, or stay with her boyfriend who may never remember her.

As I read the book, part of me hoped If Only You Stayed was based on a true story. Skye’s emotions came through poetically, and Callie Ann Frey conveyed Skye’s loss more acutely than if the character had outlined her feelings in more structured prose. The titles above each poem gave the reader enough information without revealing too much about the content, and the story moved along at a moderate pace. Flashbacks of the relationship Skye shared with her boyfriend helped engage the reader in the love story, and her boyfriend’s name is not mentioned until the end, highlighting the absence of his true consciousness. I recommend the book for readers above the age of twelve, as a few expletives are found in the story, but the romance and language are mostly clean and sweet.

K.J. Simmill

In Callie Ann Frey’s If Only You Stayed, Skye Hartman was going to miss her boyfriend. Against the odds, the popular kid in school had chosen her, a nobody, and what they had was not shallow; it was deep, precious. But sometimes all it takes is one small thing to change the course of the future. She was devastated he was leaving for England, but they were determined to make it work. But the next phone call after his departure wasn’t one to say he was safe. His plane had crashed, and whilst he was battered and bruised, he’d survived. Unfortunately, their relationship had not. He woke with amnesia. Can she rekindle the memories sealed away, or will someone else turn her head while she’s lost?

When I look for a book, I often find myself wanting one that conjures up vivid and vibrant images of the characters, their surroundings becoming a world for me to immerse myself in with the characters. Callie Ann Frey’s If Only You Stayed does not offer this to a reader. What it does offer, however, is a story told by the inner monologue of the main character. Each bite-sized chapter, or free-verse poem, focuses on the next part of the story, unfolding in the voice of the character, her thoughts, reactions, and pleas written for us to read. This makes the book unique in its presentation. While I ended up knowing little about the world and surroundings, I got a strong insight into the character and her struggles. It was definitely an interesting read that captures the thoughts and processes that can run through a person’s mind. If you fancy an easy-read romance that strays from standard storytelling, then this may be just what you’re looking for.