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“But maybe the only things stopping her were the limits she put on herself,” Amelia. ―Stay Sweet
by Siobhan Vivian
For Amelia, working at Meade Creamery means more than just having a summer job. After four years of working at the ice cream shop, Amelia has a strong bond with the all-girl staff. The older girls teach her about life: who the best teachers are, how to wear lipstick, and the perfect amount of sprinkles to put on a sundae.
When the creamery’s owner suddenly dies, the grandnephew Grady takes over the business. The nineteen-year-old hopes to prove he is capable of running a business. But Amelia and the other girls feel threatened by his presence. She doesn’t want a boy to come in between her and the perfect summer. Can Amelia show Grady the importance of the traditions behind being a Meade Creamery girl?
Stay Sweet focuses on Amelia’s desire to keep the Meade Creamery open so traditions don’t die. The story is written in the third person, however, which leaves the story feeling emotionally flat. Instead of having well-developed characters that are worthy of falling in love with, the characters’ thoughts and feelings fail to shine through.
The characters are not likely either, which makes becoming invested in this story even more of a struggle. Amelia allows herself to be taken advantage of by Grady. Amelia’s best friend, Cat, is a jealous, self-centered, awful person and a terrible friend. And Grady’s handsome looks may be the only likable part of his character. The WWII diary entries of Molly Meade bring some interest to the story, but the script font makes the entries difficult to read. In the end, Molly is the only girl who is not portrayed in a stereotypical way.
Although Stay Sweet encourages girls to live their dreams, the characters’ flaws interfere with the message and leave the reader feeling indifferent for most of the story. Stay Sweet is not a memorable summer romance.
- Amelia thinks about all she has learned while working at the creamery. The older girls taught her “the unvarnished truth of what it was like when they lost their virginity.”
- One of the girls “donated” a box of condoms because “girls shouldn’t ever depend on a guy to bring protection.”
- Amelia knows someone who would “stress-French after SAT prep classes.”
- Cat predicts that Grady will “try to get with one of the girls this summer.” She makes the girls swear to stay away from him.
- Grady and Amelia kiss. Grady “pulls her even closer to him. There is warmth in his eyes. . . They are kissing . . . what she wants to concentrate on are his lips on hers, how he can’t seem to get close enough to her, how his curls feel softer than she ever imagined.”
- Grady and Amelia get caught in a rainstorm. When they get inside, “he pulls her close to him and kisses her. Their wet bodies stick together.” They take off each other’s shirts. Then “they are kissing and walking, heading toward the living room couch half-dressed.” Amelia’s friend walks in on them and stops them from going further.
- In one scene where Amelia and Grady kiss, “his hands slipping up her neck and into her hair. When she tries pulling away, he leans forward, holding his lips to hers, extending the kiss for a second, two, three. Like he doesn’t want it to end.”
- Molly’s journal talks about when her boyfriend left for the war. He took “my face in his hands, wiping away my tears with his thumbs. He kissed me on the lips, then brought my hand to his mouth and kissed it, almost on the top of the engagement ring.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- When Grady and his father have a serious conversation, Cat says, “This is why kids at Truman are so stressed out! They’ve got these alpha parents pushing them. I’ve heard like over half of the student body is on Adderall.”
- Grady’s parents try to FaceTime him, but he ignores it because “they got to Amsterdam today, which means they’re high.”
- The creamery girls have a party at the ice cream stand and leave a huge mess. “Icy beer has splattered all over the drums of ice cream.”
- The teen characters often use profanity in their conversations, including: “ass,” “badass,” “crap,” “damn,” “hell,” “hella,” “pissed,” “shit,” and “son of a bitch.”
- “Oh my god” and “Jesus” are used as exclamations several times.
- Cat and Amelia get into an argument and Cat yells, “That’s a screw you.”
- When Cat finds out that Grady will be the boss, she said, “I’m worried he’s going to ride our asses all summer.”
- When Grady tastes the creamery’s ice cream, he says, “Holy shit.”
- “Holy crap” is used several times.
- Cat tells Amelia, “I’m pissed at you for keeping secrets, I’m pissed at you for hooking up with Grady, and I’m pissed that you fired me. . . But holy shit, Amelia, you fucking fired me.”
- At Molly’s funeral, the pastor says, “Now, the good Lord sprinkled Molly and Wayne with the same stardust he must use to make movie stars.” Later in the service, he says, “Now, Wayne, as you know, never made it home from the war, may God rest his soul. But God did not forsake . . .”
- In Molly’s journal, she prays, “Please, God, send him home to me.”
- Molly is afraid that it is a sin to be so lucky, so on Sunday she is “going to put a little something extra in the collection plate and pray a few more rosaries than I normally do. That way God will know how very grateful I am.”