Friday, June 10, 2011

Stay by Deb Caletti

Title: Stay
Author: Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Date Read: May 31 - June 1, 2011
Rating: 4/5 stars 


Clara's relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it's almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is—and what he's willing to do to make her stay.

Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won't let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough....
Deb Caletti does it again! After reading some of her earlier novels and seeing her progression to the mature author she is today, I was anxious to read her latest novel. 

Stay will be considered this year's best summer contemporary romance, but for different reasons than most YA novels. Rather than showing an amazing relationship or cute couple, Stay  portrays Clara and Christian's terrifying and ugly love. Too often we see a "insta-love" where people meet, fall in love, and everything works out; for Clara and Christian we see the realistic ending when they don't live happily ever after. It's also one of the few YA novels that looks at the negative impacts of passionate obsessive love and how it can destroy relationships. I really liked how none of Clara's relationships in the novel are textbook "perfect" as each character has faults and each relationship is not necessarily based on the best values or expectations. 

I really enjoyed how much attention Deb Caletti paid to small details, such as the alternating chapters, subtle references to the climax, the perspectives of situations, and describing Daniel in bits and pieces. She has such a great concept of how teenagers think, act, and speak that all of her characters were incredibly realistic. I especially liked her reference to how long it can take for certain songs, places, or events to no longer remind you of a person as Clara struggles to become a separate person from who she was with Christian yet is still plagued by memories they shared together.

My pet peeve with Stay actually has nothing to do with the content at all. It's the cover. First of all, it shows the wrong setting and the girl is too skinny to be Clara. Then there's the summary: atrocious! I never would have read this if I'd seen such a cheesy and melodramatic synopsis. I'm really glad that I'm not reading summaries this year to remain more objective about the books I read and this one will be a shining example.

In light of the recent article about the "darkness" of young adult literature I thought it would be appropriate for me to point out how Stay would be an excellent example of a "dark" novel that teenagers should read. As I previously stated too often YA novels focus on first loves, best-friends-that-become-boyfriends, and the happy aspects of love. None of these prepare or inform teenagers of the downside of love, that it doesn't always end in happiness and people can get hurt. Stay cracked me wide open with its amazing metaphors and characters but in the end it was the plot, a story of a girl and her boyfriend-turned-stalker, that will stick with me long after I write this review. While some may argue that it was inappropriate of Deb Caletti to include sexual, self-injury, or suicidal references in her novel, I found them all to be realistic and relevant to the scenario posed and they helped make the novel into the masterpiece it is.

Quote: "It's strange, isn't it, how the idea of belonging to someone can sound so great? It can be comforting, the way it makes things decided. We like the thought of being held, until it's too tight. We like that certainty, until it means there's no way out. And we like being his, until we realize we're not ours anymore."

Recommended: Wild Roses (Deb Caletti), Dreamland (Sarah Dessen), Just Listen (Sarah Dessen), Bitter End (Jennifer Brown)

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