If You Want Me to Stay
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If You Want Me to Stay

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3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  134 ratings  ·  25 reviews
In Michael Parker's new novel, Joel Dunn Jr. tells the story of how he did everything he could to save his family after his mother left and his father's tenuous hold on sanity unraveled. On a journey from the town of Trent, North Carolina, to the coast, Joel and his little brother Tank thread their way back to their mother, fueled by potato chips, Coke, and the soundtrack...more
ebook, 192 pages
Published September 16th 2005 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published 2005)
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Emily  O
Jun 15, 2012 Emily O rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Michael Parker
Shelves: contemporary-lit
I am not a big fan of the summer novel. I tend to read exactly the same kind of novels during the summer as I would any other time of year. That said, I honestly think that If You Want Me To Stay is the perfect book for summer. It's one of the rare books that manages to be exciting and readable without compromising on quality. Full disclosure: Michael Parker is one of my professors at UNCG, and his class on the contemporary novel was one of my favorites. It was partially because I loved his teac...more
Goldjeepgrl
FYI : lots of cussing, especially F-bombs, a story of mental illness at its worst entwined with a soundtrack of beautiful soul music, I didn't care for the cussing but I couldn't stop reading every time Otis Redding and Al Green crept into the madness of this poor family's life. A story of a young boy coming to terms with his fathers craziness and his mothers abandonment and learning not to love so much and yet loving hard. Incredibly sad, you want to reach in and rescue what remains of him.
Cindy Huffman
Wow. This book was powerfully heartbreaking. It was difficult to read for two reasons: one, the writing style was narrative. Not unusual, but the narrator was a 14 year old boy who spoke in long, rambling, without punctuation, sentences. Once I got into the rhythm of the narration, I could adjust, well, to a degree. There were many times I had to re-read the sentence to be sure I understood what he was saying.

But I admired such writing. How difficult it must have been to write this but so freaki...more
Linda
This is a sad but totally captivating book about a 14 year old struggling to keep his family together after his mother leaves him with two young brothers and a mentally ill father. The book is so well written that I found myself taking on the family's pain as I read and left with a lingering sense of sadness when I had finished the book. The lifeline they found in soul music was a welcome diversion from this sadness although I did think it was somewhat overdone. The book is creative and moving...more
Tommy
Michael Parker brings Joel, Jr. to life in a powerful and unique fashion. The authenticity of the dialog between JJ and Tank, eloquent expression of JJ's thoughts and imagination, and his reliance on quality R&B, specifically the Memphis and Muscle Shoals Sound, rings so close to home for me, it's almost scary. I noticed that the first 18 reviews I read we're all from the opposite gender, and maybe the title or cover might not immediately draw in those with my interests. As a better reader t...more
Sarah Honenberger
Dark stories, but masterful journey into human motivation and family dynamics;
Kathy
Joel Dunn, Jr., 14, has a distinctive voice. As he goes off in search of his mother (his father has "gone off" again), with his little brother, Tank, in tow, Joel tells us everything in his heart and head (and it is all fascinating). He interprets his entire life through soul music, which was almost too much, but just danced away from the edge. I wanted to meet Joel. More to the point, I wanted to save him. I found this a most interesting read that addreses rather accurately the way a serious me...more
Mona
So I picked up this book on a discount shelf and thought I would give it a try. The story seemed heart wrenching about young boys and their tormented childhood. The story was essentially good but I could not stand the dialect and all of the music references were just too distracting. The last couple of chapters were good but overall I lost interest after the first couple of chapters.
Carrie
I picked this up because of the brothers in a less than ideal family situation plot, and it had that entire dark, souther US, Faulknerian vibe to it, and the ending was terrible and perfect and obvious and unforgettable all at the same time, so I guess it was worth it. Or the last chapter was, anyway? Plus, the cover's pretty.
Hannah
I started this one today, and....no! Read the first few pages and couldn't stand the dialect. I'm really not prejudiced, but reading all the "y'alls, aints, and "done-did-that's" make me nuts! Good thing I only paid one cent plus shipping. (I LOVE Amazon's Marketplace!!!)
Mary Jane
Oct 07, 2011 Mary Jane rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary Jane by: Library Volunteer
Shelves: did-not-finish
I just could not get into this book. I was recommended to me because of the writing but I just couldn't get into it or understand the way it was written. I had a feeling even if I could understand the writing, it would depress me so I gave up on it.
Martha
a tough read about a boy trying to parent his younger brothers after his mother abandons them with their mentally ill, and sometimes dangerous, father. Early R&B music provides a haven for all three boys.
Sara
Writing is fantastic---recommend reading while listening to the records. However, be warned, it is highly disturbing- in more ways than one.
Timothy
This is a rocket soul opera. Should be read out loud. Parker has created a character with a voice that will knock you down.
Beth
A Southern Gothic tragedy (with a soundtrack), this is a heart-wrenching story of family violence. Parker's writing is gripping.
Elizabethevola
I didn't like this one too much - too many music references that took away from the main story line.
Nancy
This is an absolutely heartbreaking story, but worth reading.
Eunice
A person can hear the music and experience the pain page after page.
Kristi Brendle
Made me laugh & cry at once. Great story, but highly disturbing.
Diane
What a gut-wrenching story of a 14 year old boy and his family.
Victoria
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie
Sad, tragic, good writing, mostly sad.
Melissa Vasquez
Melissa Vasquez marked it as to-read
Aug 19, 2014
Allyssa Terry
Allyssa Terry marked it as to-read
Aug 14, 2014
Stef
Stef marked it as to-read
Aug 13, 2014
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MICHAEL PARKER is the author of five novels – Hello Down There, Towns Without Rivers, Virginia Lovers, If You Want Me To Stay, The Watery Part of the World and two collections of stories, The Geographical Cure and Don’t Make Me Stop Now. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals including Five Points, the Georgia Review, The Idaho Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times...more
More about Michael Parker...
The Watery Part of the World Don't Make Me Stop Now All I Have In This World Virginia Lovers Hello Down There

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