Life doesn’t always go the easy way for university student Sam in this lesbian romance.

Stowe Away is about Sam, who lives for the day she can escape from her boring childhood home located in Stowe, Vermont. After graduating from high school, she leaves for Yale University hoping life will become much better.

The book follows Sam over the course of six years. In her first term at Yale, Sam is clueless and clumsy and happier in the lab than at a party. She is mentally brilliant but socially unskilled. So it isn’t a surprise that she falls in love with Natalie, who will never love her back.

Natalie is the polar opposite of Sam. She doesn’t know what she wants to be, doesn’t want to be tied down by any woman or career, and wants to live a life of fun and pleasure. She goes through lovers, both male and female, at a breathtaking pace. Natalie also changes majors at the same rate. She wants to have the full college experience, whether her best friend Sam likes it or not.

Sometimes in this story, it is exhausting to read how much Sam pines for Natalie. She falls head over heels in love with Natalie and spends the next four years of college craving her. I wanted to grab Sam so many times and say, “She isn’t worth it, she won’t love you!”

Both women have just ended up at different grad schools in California when Sam’s mother suffers a severe brain aneurysm, and the second half of the book begins. This second half flows so much better than the first, almost painful half.

Sam gets to know someone called Maria, and in my opinion, she is perfect for Sam right from the beginning. Maria is direct and shows Sam how to find a path to her goals. Sam discovers that her small hometown isn’t as restricted as she once thought.

All the characters in Stowe—Maria; Maria’s brother, Pauly; and Eva, Sam’s mother, fully carry the second half of the book. The mother-daughter relationship and its development after Eva’s illness are very well written. She and Sam become close. Their complex relationship is touching and avoids any sort of sentimentality.

I found myself totally into this book, and was fascinated by its different characters, even when I disliked Natalie. Sometimes, I wanted to smack a person; sometimes I wanted to hug a person. I think this is a good thing, because I really got into the characters and their motivations. I enjoyed Blythe Rippon’s first book, but I really loved Stowe Away. It was so easy for me to slip into every scene. By the end of the story, I felt like Sam’s friend who has been through a lot with her. This is really great story: intense and fascinating!