If You Stay by Courtney Cole
Publisher: Hachette Book Group, GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING, FOREVER
Release Date: April 16, 2013
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24-year old Pax Tate is an asshole.
He's a tattooed, rock-hard bad-boy with a bad attitude to match.
But he's got his reasons.
His mother died when Pax was seven, leaving a hole in his heart filled with guilt although he doesn't understand why. What he does know is that he and his dad are left alone and with more issues than they can count.
As Pax grew up, he tried to be the kid his father always wanted; the perfect golden boy, but it didn't work. His dad couldn't overcome his grief long enough to notice and Pax couldn't keep up the impossible perfect façade.
So he slipped far, far from it.
Now, he uses drugs and women to cope with the ugliness, the black void that he doesn't want to deal with. If he pretends that the emptiness isn't there, then it isn't, right?
And it's never more apparent than when he meets Mila.
Sweet, beautiful Mila Hill is the fresh air to his hardened frown, the beauty to his ugly heart. He doesn't know how to not hurt her, but he quickly realizes that he'd better figure it out because he needs her to breathe.
When memories of his mother's death resurface from where he's repressed them for so long, Mila is there to catch him when the guilt starts making sense. Mila is the one...the one who can save him from his broken troubled heart; from his issues, from the emptiness.
But only if he can stop being an asshole long enough to allow it.
He knows that. And he's working on it.
But is that enough to make her stay?
“I’m an asshole. There are some things in life that can’t be explained. Period. Assholes are assholes. Rainbows are pretty. Kittens are cute….”
This book was passionate and intense. This is definitely a New Adult book, nothing even close to the Young Adult genre, which some books blur the line between the two. At times the book is graphic and somewhat crude, which almost made me stop reading as that type of writing isn’t really my style, but I’m glad I kept on reading as it did have a great story.
I did enjoy Mila’s character. She was direct with Pax and didn’t play games. I did find her to be naïve at times about Pax.
“I don’t think he actually has a drug problem. I think he uses, and of course I hope he stops.”
This I had a problem with. She found him passed out in his car and saved him from death, but she doesn’t think he has a drug problem? Yes, maybe he wasn’t an addict, but he obviously did have a problem with using and needed help. What if he didn’t stop and kept on going with more and more drugs? Would he have had an addiction then? He kept on saying throughout the book that his not an addict he just uses to stay in oblivion. Either way it wasn’t healthy and he needed professional help.
I didn’t think that Mila really had the right to be mad at Pax when he told her about what he did at the bar in Chicago. He was trying to be honest and start the relationship right, so I’m glad he called her out on it when she accused him of cheating before they even began dating.
“We aren’t even dating and you’ve cheated on me already.”
No. You haven't even gone on a date yet. That's not cheating.
“And I did not cheat on you. We weren’t together. You rejected me, remember?”
I found Pax put Mila on a pedestal at times and did worry that by doing so was going to harm the relationship, but it didn’t. I was impressed with Pax by the end of the book. He promised Mila he would try to be faithful, both from other women and drugs, and I honestly didn’t think he would be able to do both. I thought he would slip with the drugs, but he didn’t, and when he empty his vial of pills that first week I was like Wow, good for him, maybe he does really want to change.
Pax’s relationship with his father was tough. Neither would communicate with each other. Pax wanted his father to treat him like an adult and thought his father still saw him as a child, but honestly I don’t blame the father for still seeing him as a child when Pax was still acting like a child. His father should have been getting Pax help a long time ago and failed as a parent in that way, but nobody is perfect and his father had his own guilt and grief to work through. When Pax’s past finally comes to light it is shocking and heartbreaking. You can completely understand how he could have suppressed the memories.
Can you really change a person? They have to want to change for themselves not for someone else. I think in this case Pax may have started off wanting to change to impress Mila, but in the end he changed for himself, which is why they needed time apart for him to cope with his past.