by Jasmine Luck
Publication: September 18, 2021
Since Jasmine Luck’s short story in the cultural holiday anthology, I’ve looked forward to reading more from her. When I picked up Say You’ll Stay (2021), I knew I was going to enjoy the story. Martha Song is attacked on the way home but is saved by a man carrying a metal pipe. To offer her gratitude, she buys him dinner and from there begins to seek him out, realizing she may be falling for him. I was not disappointed; however, Martha quickly falling in love prevented me from giving the book the 4 stars I wanted to give it.Martha is kind and sees beyond a person’s exterior. The fact that Zach is homeless doesn’t prevent her from developing feelings for him, because his actions speak for themselves. He’s a nice guy and life has not been kind to him. They bond over books–I love when books are involved. What is else greater than that? (Heh….) Zach is the more hesitant of the two because he doesn’t feel like he has much to offer her and wonders why she would like him at all. One of the things I loved best about Martha was how confident she felt about Zach and her willingness to stick up for him. As sweet as they are together, Martha falls for Zach extremely quickly. She goes from thanks for your help to you’re attractive to I’m in love with you in such a short amount of time that I, like Zach, also questioned what motivated Martha to fall so quickly. If anything, it felt more like infatuation than love. While I enjoyed reading the book, the instalove feel was always on the back of my mind, dampening how much I enjoyed their story.
While the romance is center stage, it is notable to mention that Martha has a wonderful support system, which includes her mom and grandma Ah Ma. Ah Ma and Martha’s mom aren’t the stereotypical Asian parental figures, especially Ah Ma. I love stories with strong positive family bonds. Sure, Ah Ma might want Martha to meet a nice Chinese boy, but both are perfectly content with who Martha chooses as long as he loves her. They were wonderful characters, and Ah Ma’s earnestness in finding Martha a boyfriend was entertaining. I adored them.
After reading Say You’ll Stay, I realized why I liked Luck’s stories so much. It’s the details she includes that contribute to realistic portrayals of the characters and the story. They contribute to understanding why characters are who they are and their motivation for their actions. Martha’s overwhelming need to help Zach isn’t a surprise knowing how much she loved her brother and her penchant for giving things like chipped plates an extended life. It was these details that made Martha, her mom, and Ah Ma endearing. It’s also these details in what I’ve read in Luck’s work that keep me looking forward to what she is working on next.