If I Asked You, Would You Stay? Critical Essays

Eve Bunting


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

If I Asked You, Would You Stay? is a fine example of contemporary realistic fiction. In this brief novel, the principal characters, singly and together, confront a wide range of emotional issues as they each forge their own roads toward peace, serenity, and maturity. The subthemes of the novel—loss, alienation, fear, dreams, and the desire for independence—are themes that are prevalent among the young adolescents who are the readers of this book. This novel of emotional growth and trust is about people, not problems. The content and the characters are presented honestly and simply. The reader learns about the characters as they learn about each other. Details unfold gradually, leaving readers room to ponder details and draw inferences and conclusions. Bunting sensitively portrays the plight of these two adolescents as they deal with some of the problems and issues that unfortunately confront many adolescents.

This novel explores the characters’ attempts to overcome problems that arise from external forces and physical or emotional desertion. It allows readers to explore closely the impact of these forces on the lives of characters and in turn on the lives of the readers themselves. Adolescents often fantasize about leaving their home and forging their own lives, independent of the scrutiny of adults. Bunting provides readers a window through which to view that fantasy.

The main characters of Crow and Valentine are, on the surface, like people whom the readers already know. They both seek escape and refuge—he from ties, she from fear and unhappiness. He creates a life for...

(The entire section is 659 words.)