Review: Don’t Plan to Stay by Kaje Harper

Don't Plan to StayRating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novella


One underage beer and a car crash overturned Donnie Kagan’s life. At eighteen, he was sentenced to six years in prison and his time is finally up. The last place he thought he would go is the place he winds up: Tallbridge, ND. That used to be home and Donnie has some unfinished business there.

That business is in the form of Adam Lindberg, Donnie’s best friend and high school boyfriend. Adam was severely injured in the crash and by the time he got out of the hospital, Donnie was well into the system. Although Adam wrote and wanted to see Donnie, all his letters remained unanswered. Adam tried to date over the years, but no one was Donnie.

It’s the busy season at Adam’s family’s store and they can certainly use an extra set of hands, but Donnie has a plan to move on after the holiday. It’s up to Adam to get Donnie to reconcile their past so they can get started on their future.

Kaje Harper writes about two high school boyfriends, one bad decision, and lots of extenuating circumstances. The book takes place after those events. After Donnie has survived six years in prison and after he made what he tells himself is an impulse decision to see Adam again.

The book has a bit of somber tone and deals with forgiveness and loss. Forgiveness that Donnie claims he doesn’t need or deserve, as well as loss that Harper layers in throughout their story. We are shown glimpses of Donnie and Adam as they fell in love at a young age and then glimpses of how they never could let each other go.

Donnie’s past before prison is not gone into with much detail, nor is his time in prison, and so we don’t get to know him as well. Whereas with Adam, we learn much more about his home life as his family is included in his story.

The family owns a craft style store and Harper captures the feel of the store as well as the cold of North Dakota with great clarity that added to the story. Adam and Donnie are tentative with each other as they have a lot to discuss and while those conversations don’t come about outright, the love they have for each other still remains. The style here was interesting as the characters often say one thing, often what they think is most acceptable to hear, while their inner thoughts highlight their true feelings. I liked this style as it helped to cut through to the characters quicker due to the page constraints of the story.

The length of the book gave the story a somewhat fleeting feeling and certain areas of the story, like Adam’s brother, Nate, were not fully resolved by the end. Overall, the book is a fairly quick read with good atmosphere and two friends that were meant to be getting that all important second chance.

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