Stowe Away by Blythe Rippon

(8 customer reviews)

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Author: Blythe Rippon


Samantha Latham is a little socially awkward and a lot brilliant. When she arrives at Yale, thrilled to finally escape her rural Vermont hometown called Stowe, the focused and driven Sam knows exactly what she wants: an illustrious career as a medical researcher and a relationship with her new best friend Natalie, a talented yet capricious girl who keeps Sam guessing.

Everything changes when Sam must suddenly withdraw from school to care for her invalid mother back in Vermont. Moving back to Stowe means no more brilliant career in medicine, and definitely no more Natalie. As she finds herself alone, faced with a life she never wanted, Sam slowly learns to recalibrate what she considers success, discovering the artistic side of Stowe, a community of lesbians she never imagined existed there, and a new woman who inspires Sam to rethink everything she thought she knew—especially about love.

Additional information

Publication Date

January 2016


epub (for Kindle Reader/Kindle Apps, for iBooks, Nook etc.), mobi, and pdf




98,000 words




978-3-95533-524-3 (mobi), 978-3-95533-525-0 (epub), 978-3-95533-526-7 (pdf)


Ylva Publishing

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8 reviews for Stowe Away by Blythe Rippon

  1. Kurt Ozinga


    *Note: I was provided with a free copy of the book by Ylva publishing in exchange for a fair review

    Written in the third person, “Stowe Away” tells the story of Sam, off to college, happier in the lab than at a party. Maybe mentally brilliant she is socially very skilled. She is an out lesbian but this does not cause her any problems throughout the story. Her main problem is her unrequited love for Natalie who is more about “the college experience” than worrying about coursework. She provides Sam with enough evidence of her unavailability by sleeping with half of New Haven County, both male and female. Sam stays chaste in her Natalie obsession to the point of being masochistic.

    They both head out to California for different graduate schools (lucky Sam) so the agony can continue. Finally, Sam is forced to change her focus when she is called back to her sleepy, small town, Stowe, to become a caregiver for her mother, Eva. Her father is out of the picture and apparently exists in the story only to write checks to Sam. There is never an issue of money in this story. No concern at all. How Sam pays for anything from a deli sandwich to toothpaste is not covered but it can assumed her tuitions and expenses are paid for by her father.

    With Natalie, the unavailable love interest out of the picture for now, the story becomes more pleasant. The author is good with the telling but not in the showing and the dialogue ranged from good to corny to story stopping. But I did read. I was interested to a point. Every now and then one of the characters sounded like she had just purchased a thesaurus and said things no one would say and try to fit in normal conversation.

    This stopped me cold as I read as I enjoy fluid reading, not stopping and pondering the differences. I think it was an effort to have the characters sound different from each other. The dialogue in the book could use some work throughout to sound natural, and with all of this moping and self-delusion it could use more humor as well.

    I could not for the life of me get a handle on how the main characters looked in my mind. I don’t mean exaggerated elements like emerald eyes and so on, but I just could not picture them which was a first and I don’t know why. I always have some visual in mind when I read a book.

    Worthy story, mostly. Dialogue needs work. Natalie needed to join the army and be sent to Anchorage around page thirty.

    What happened to all of the poetry/sonnets that Sam wrote? Why was that ability introduced? Sam as renaissance woman except for her social awkwardness? It was nice to see resolved at the saccharine end of the story.

    I am going to say “3 Stars”

  2. rebeccakbarrus2


    *Note: I was provided with a free copy of the book by Ylva publishing in exchange for a fair review
    Overall Stowe Away makes for an enjoyable, thought-provoking read. Sam Latham is such a relatable character that it’s sometimes hard to read about her thoughts and actions without cringing. When she begins falling for Natalie, I’m sure every woman who likes other women began screaming at her to run the other way. I know I did! As I turned the pages, the sense of familiarity overwhelmed me. I’ve been there. We’ve all been there.

    Sam’s process of healing from that complicated, messy relationship is very real, as is her realization that life doesn’t always work out in the way you plan. Rippon manages to catch the subtleties and complexities of the shifts in parent-child relationships after such drastic changes such as the ones her mother goes through. Sam learns–and the reader learns as well–that just because you’re living in a small town doesn’t mean that your future is over or that you can’t find fulfillment. I particularly enjoyed the idea of Maria holding a weekly salon.

    The second half of the novel–especially the romance plot line–is slightly Hallmark-esque, which is both a good and a bad thing in my opinion. On the one hand, I firmly believe that we should have full access to cheesy, charming stories of women falling in love with other women without worrying that one of them is going to die or have to go through conversion therapy. On the other hand, Sam, who is shown as socially awkward at times but never clumsy in the first half of the novel, becomes a walking chick flick leading lady stereotype whenever she’s around Maria. She spills drinks, trips over tables, the whole nine yards. And one of their first interactions ends with them yelling at each other and then Sam seeing Maria in her bra. For a story with fairly believable characters, those bits were kind of contrived.

    I enjoyed it, especially the first half which was raw and absolutely gutted me, but I probably won’t read it again.

    ***Pet peeve: I don’t understand why the word “bisexual” was never used in relation to Natalie. Sam, like too many lesbians, falls into the trap of thinking that you have to be either straight or gay, leaving very little room (and representation) for the B members of the LGBT community. Had Natalie returned Sam’s feelings, would “bisexual” have been used or would she just been called a lesbian?

  3. Amanda Bialon


    Note – I was provided a free copy of this book by Ylva Publishing for in exchange for an honest review.

    This book follows Sam over the course of something like six years. It begins as Sam leaves her small town to go to Yale, where, of course, she falls in love with someone who will never love her back, and generally angsts about everything.

    To be honest, I had a hard time with the first half of the book – it was rather juvenile and there were moments where it was outright slut-shaming and biphobic (or, at least, it refused to acknowledge one of the characters as a bisexual woman despite her openly dating both men and women). And, while Sam’s struggles were relatable to a point, I couldn’t get myself to like her. She’s snooty, arrogant, and lacks empathy.

    Eventually, though, Sam is forced to move back home to become caretaker for her mother, where she discovers that her small town isn’t as claustrophobic as she once thought. While not necessarily groundbreaking, I did appreciate that the second half of the book allowed the characters to have the walking-into-the-sunset happy ending that queer couples are so often denied. It was enjoyable enough, though at points it did get overly sentimental and cheesy.

    For me, the best part of this book was Sam’s relationship with her mother. Her mother spends much of the book battling depression in a very real and heartbreaking way, but it is when she has a stroke that she and Sam really become close. Their complex relationship is touching and yet somehow avoids much of the sentimentalism that saturates the rest of the book.

    If you’re looking for a cheesy beach book, Stowe Away is it. It’s a quick read, the characters are enjoyable enough, and you do kind of find yourself rooting for a happy ending.

  4. Jenny Santoro


    I was provided an ARC, with thanks, in exchange for my honest feedback. Please don’t let that fool you: Ms. Rippon earned every single one of her five stars for this piece of work!

    I am an avid reader and became a fan of Ms. Rippon after reading her debut novel, “Barring Complications.” If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, I strongly urge you to do so! Her style of writing, descriptions, dialogue and flow pulled me through the story flawlessly and I was never irritated by poor editing (one of the reasons I love Ylva publishing)!

    We are introduced to several characters in this novel and I found myself invested in all of them; their development and relationships with not just themselves but with others as well. Ms. Rippon seamlessly pulls us along a span of (I believe) six years and I could find no “filler” within this book: everything that happened seemed to be necessary for the story to move forward and I was kept guessing almost until the end! I found myself relating to the characters and, on several occasions, got emotional. This is not an easy thing to do and it only endears me more to this author.

    Do yourself a favor and pick this one up–you will not be disappointed and I have no doubt that you will not only be buying her first novel but you will be looking forward to future works of hers as well!

  5. Sarah Nathanson


    We start the novel with an adrift protagonist, Samantha Latham, who’s lost focus after her mother’s illness and her own lost chance of a medical career. From there, we follow the events that led to Sam’s current predicament, and are introduced to the exceptionally unavailable Natalie. At times Sam is an egotistical, know-it-all, judgmental character, and she doesn’t evolve past this during the entire first half of the novel. While her anxious attraction to Natalie is relatable, this plot dragged on frustratingly slowly. I especially disliked the flowery language used by Sam to describe Natalie. Then again, unrequited love is just not my cup of tea in general.

    One of the few forces that was able to ground the novel was Sam’s complicated relationship with her mentally-ill mother. This was portrayed realistically and with appropriate emotional impact. A good half of the book is devoted to Sam’s studies and her boring, pining, love affair. But after disaster strikes and she is forced to move back home to take care of her mother, the novel gains real emotional weight. I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if the accident had occurred much earlier in the story. Read this book if you’re patient enough to read through the slow part, and you’re feeling like a good cry.

  6. Sabrina


    I loved Blythe Rippon’s first novel “Barring Complications”. So much so that I recently re-read it when I felt like reading something I knew was great. Too often these days does one get tricked into reading terrible fiction by nice blurbs and the hype around a book that doesn’t deserve it.
    Back to “Stowe Away”: I loved this novel as much as Blythe’s first.
    The story spans several years. The heartache one encounters when falling in love, alas unrequited love, is nothing readers are not familiar with. But “Stowe Away” tells Sam’s coming of age story so delicately, uniquely and with love that it didn’t feel rehashed.
    And the beauty of it? There is no villain. No obstacle to overcome like in so many other love stories (not a bad thing, just saying), just growth is important.
    Additionally to personal growth the novel tells a story that deals with mental health issues and disabilities. I am not sure how much I should share about this. But let me tell you it’s very well done.

  7. Tara at The Lesbian Review


    So I almost bailed on this a bunch of times, mostly because I couldn’t stand Sam. But I’m glad I kept going, because I ended up really liking it. She has a hard road to growing up, but I liked where she ended at. Also, like with Bunny Finds a Friend, I like that it’s a coming of age story that isn’t about high schoolers.

    Full review here:

  8. jane shambler


    I really enjoy this author. Blythe Rippon is an excellent writer and this book does not disappoint. She has a great style which keeps you interested and makes you look out for her books. This book is mainly about changing one’s attitude and the problems change can bring both expected and unexpected. It’s about dreams having to be changed due to unforeseen circumstances and tells us how with the right support and commitment how plans can be brought back to reality. It’s a really nice feel good book. I’m glad I read it and I think you’ll enjoy it too.

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