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Staying: A Memoir

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  340 ratings  ·  57 reviews
As children, Jessie Cole and her brother Jake ran wild, free to roam their rainforest home as they pleased. They had each other, parents who adored them, and two mysterious, beautiful, clever half-sisters, Billie and Zoe, who came to visit every holidays. But when Jessie was on the cusp of adolescence, tragedy struck, and her happy, loving family fell apart. This beautiful ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Text Publishing
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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Michael Livingston
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I tore through this in a day - it's a beautiful and utterly heart-breaking memoir about loss, family, grief and (eventually) recovery. Cole is a gorgeous writer and rakes over the incredibly difficult family life she's had in way that doesn't feel self-indulgent or unnecessary - it's powerful and revelatory in parts. Definitely one to read, but not if you're already feeling down - it's pretty grim. ...more
Robert Lukins
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So beautiful and difficult and moving; a real achievement.
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
It's rare I read a book in a single sitting these days, but once I started Staying, I kept reading right through to the end. (Well, technically two sittings, with a drive home from the cafe where I started it over lunch in between.) I spent a bit of time on the far north coast in the 90s, so the setting of Jessie Cole's memoir was very familiar to me. For years, as a younger person, I had romantic fantasies of living some kind of vague and unspecific alternative lifestyle up that way, with a bat ...more
Text Publishing
‘A wounded, lovely, luminous book about grief, trauma and the strange healing potential of words.’
Tim Winton

‘An honest, raw and well-crafted memoir about a family torn apart.’
AU Review

‘Cole paints such an authentic picture of her grieving family I wanted to read more about the years that followed, which shows her great achievement in Staying.’
Good Reading

‘I have read many memoirs this year, but none as scrupulously honest as this one…The sensitivity and brilliance of Cole's writing meant I was
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The writing in this book is astonishing - it is so emotional yet not sentimental - as the re-telling of her childhood & adolescence read like fiction. The story flowed so utterly fluidly, everything felt visceral and real and yet personal and certainly from Cole's own perspective.
Cole employed universal themes, but the minutiae in combination is really what made this book special - and, really, it's beyond special.
Cole lays everything bare and available for consumption, and it's so impressive.
This is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Although the emotions and topics of this book are rarely discussed or explored, Jessie Cole did so in a gentle and comforting way, given that she was discussing herself and her family.
Death of a loved one is difficult in any circumstancrs, and grief is its own particular struggle. Jessie Cole, in my eyes, is so brave to talk on the topic of suicide, especially as it is so personal for her.

Jessie Cole I salute you, and I wish you well in your con
The first third of the book covers the childhood of the author. She lived with her brother and parents on a fertile property with her semi-hippie non-conforming parents. Her two older step-sisters would visit during holidays. Life was fairly idyllic, clothing optional, rules minimal. Then a tragic suicide.
At that point the book stepped up, taking an emotion edge as the author tries to deal with the loss and her family's reaction. Not an easy read for a while until the author gets into her early
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I eagerly await everything Jessie Cole publishes, so I bought Staying: A Memoir as soon as it hit the shelves. It might be my favourite of Jessie's books. Intelligent, lyrical and deeply insightful, Staying tells the story of Jessie's childhood, the tragedies that struck her family, and their aftermath. Jessie writes with love and compassion, and there's a sense of an honest struggle to make meaning of what has happened. Her delight in the natural world adds an extra dimension to the writing. I ...more
Lisa Walker
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book this is. Only a writer as skilled and insightful as Jessie Cole could turn such a tragic story into this shining gem. Life affirming and drenched in the healing power of nature.
Giselle A Nguyen
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly generous memoir that illuminates the difficulty and strange contradictions of grief, loss and survival. Cole’s prose is lovely and affecting, and I felt like I was with her throughout the whole journey. Highly recommend.
Catherine Davison
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Giving stars to a text like this somehow feels wrong; this is a memoir and Cole has ‘slowly and tentatively shared’ not only words with us her readers but she has laid bare, shared, the depth of her family’s grief. She has done this not in a ‘look at me, feel sorry for me’ way, not at all. She is a writer of considerable talent and has written a poignant, powerful and most beautiful elegy for her sister and her father. It’s a wonderful piece of writing.
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, moving memoir of grief and trauma.
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Such an important book that speaks so lovingly of the human condition in the face of loss. Don't miss an opportunity to read it. ...more
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
A beautifully-written memoir, filled with equal parts loss, grief, love and redemption.
Bree T
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It feels like a very long time since I was introduced to Jessie Cole’s work and in some ways, it is. I first read something by her in 2012 and was blown away by the imagery in her writing. Her first two books, Darkness On The Edge of Town and Deeper Water are incredible but it’s been a little while so I was very pleased when I read that there was something new coming. Different to her other books, Staying is a memoir of her childhood.

Jessie and her younger brother Jake had quite a free-range upb
One More Page
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heart smashing memoir. Comforting and uncomfortable all at once. Loved this book.
Steve Castley
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jessie Cole has crafted a magnificent and heart-felt memoir. It is beautiful, sad, tragic, but also uplifting. She has a great way with words and the reader gets to see everything up close and through her eyes. Read it. You'll love it too. ...more
Chris Waterford
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another great read from Jessie Cole---but this memoir is her best---superbly written, brutally honest and heartfelt, she paints pictures that are as vivid as being at the movies. A wonderfully gifted writer at the peak of her form---and still (hopefully) in the early stages of her writing life.
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Heart-achingly beautiful and sad, Jessie Cole has shared some of her most vulnerable moments in a life filled with trials. I adored this memoir in all its poetic beauty.
Sally Piper
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful unravelling of grief, guilt and reconciliation and how the landscapes we know and love can be salve and saviour.
Lesley Moseley
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
3 1/2 rounded up due to the gentle way this sensitive subject and very personal account was handled.

Having had a different but similar experiences, many feelings resonated. One major difference between us was Jessie talks about her sister and fathers suicides as a loss of trust. I always felt anger; took me years to realise I had to accept their choices and developed the mantra : Her life, her death, her choice. The loss of my poor father was lost in that rage-pool.

Grief-time as Jessie coins it
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s only taken two sittings to read this beautiful and heartbreaking book. I’ve loved Jessie’s writing since I had the privilege of working on both of her fiction books, and with this memoir, I can confirm I’ll continue to be one of the first people to line up to buy everything she writes. The writing is rich and evocative and as a reader, it feels like you’ve been invited into Jessie’s home, childhood, and her family with its joy and and sadness. It’s been the perfect book to curl up with on t ...more
Reannon Bowen
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars for such a honestly written book. What this book did for me was reinforce something I learnt from Any Ordinary Day- that we have to accompany people through the hard stuff the same as we do through the good stuff.
Kayte Nunn
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, moving and soulful. I loved Jessie’s writing style and was instantly absorbed in this heartbreaking narrative.
Bradley McCann
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
Beautifully sweet; hauntingly sad; and ultimately, rejuvenating. Jessie's work is so deeply authentic. Her honesty while taking the reader deep into her interior life is profoundly moving and holds immense power for healing and catharsis. ...more
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful memoir, with perfect pacing and luminous prose. What stood out to me the most was the lack of anger: such tenderness and compassion on every page.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A mesmerising memoir. Jessie's story is so reminiscent of decades past but with themes which are relevant to any time or place. So engaging, and heart rending at times, and so beautifully written. The 4 (otherwise busy) days in which I managed to read this book is an indication of its "unputdownableness". Very highly recommend. Thankyou Jessie Cole for sharing your story. 🙏🌈 ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This memoir had me in its grips from the start, and I finished it in one sitting. Jessie Cole has a way with words that just draws you in, joining her in her story of loss and rebirth and riding all the range of emotions she has felt on the journey through her life thus far. If you are a fan of memoirs, I highly recommend you pick up this one.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting memoir on how a teenagers girl suicide affected the family and eventually, after many years struggling with what happen and depression, her dad ended up also committing suicide.
Sad but also educational.
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I heard Jessie being interviewed on the radio and had to read her memoir. Jessie shares the highs and lows of her very unconventional childhood growing up in a rainforest in remote New South Wales. Heart wrenching, beautiful and thought provoking.
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Jessie Cole grew up in an isolated valley in Northern NSW, and lived a bush childhood of creek swimming and barefoot free-range adventuring. In 2009 she was awarded a HarperCollins Varuna Award for Manuscript Development, leading to the publication of her first novel Darkness on the Edge of Town, which has been shortlisted for the 2013 ALS Gold Medal and longlisted for the Dobbie Literary Award. H ...more

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