Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review - Stay

Deb Caletti
Simon Pulse
At first, everything is amazing. Christian is gorgeous and super-attentive, exactly the sort of guy Clara wants to be with. That is, until his devotion to her grows into something else and he becomes more possessive and jealous, eventually stalking her after she breaks it off with him. Now, Clara and her dad have rented a summer house on the beach just to get away from him. In this little town, completely cut off from her old life, Clara hopes Christian will stay away from her for good, but her overwhelming fear makes her wonder if the distance between them will really stop his obsession.

I felt like this book was the anti-thesis to all the my-boyfriend-loves-me-so-much-he-stalks-me, Twilight-esque books out there. Clara and Christian have an intense relationship right from the get; there's an instant connection and the word soul mates is tossed around almost carelessly. They "love" each other. They're completely wrapped up in each other. However, as their relationship grows, so does Christian's jealousy. He doesn't want Clara to talk to other guys, look at other guys. He checks up on her when they're not together, just to make sure she's where she said she would be and not cheating on him. He gets angry too easily and this anger fades into a desperate neediness too quickly. When they break up and he starts stalking her, the fear is palpable. He emails, calls, and shows up at her house uninvited.

The story switches between past and present, telling the story of their relationship simultaneously with what happens after Clara and her father move to the sea for the summer to get away from him. While I wished that the past/present sections were marked, the story flowed well enough that it wasn't jarring for me. There's a lot of descriptive language in this book and a lot of times I felt like it slowed the story down, but at the same time there was so much tension in the story and this balanced out the slowness of it to a good degree.

The setting of the sea plays a bit part of this book and it's written beautifully. Though the overriding symbolism of the ghosts seemed a bit overplayed at times, the actual setting and atmosphere of the seaside town Clara and her father come to is great, as is the various ways that this setting plays into the plot of the story.

Clara and her dad have exactly the sort of father-daughter relationship I've been waiting for in YA. There's an obvious love and ease between them; when Christian starts going crazy, Dad is right there for Clara; he even even changes their life around to give both his daughter and himself some peace of mind. The relationship between them is so easy and such a huge part of the book, which I absolutely loved this. While there were some revelations near the end that I was unprepared for and that at first felt out of place, these things came together and made perfect sense by the conclusion. Things here are, thankfully, not tied up so neatly with a bow and while I wasn't quite satisfied with the ending, which felt rushed and a bit too easy compared with the rest of the story, I do like how Caletti left things overall.

I didn't expect to, but I loved this book. Love love love. It's lyrical and creepy, all-too-honest and believable, and written with such great tension and realistic characters. As I said earlier, I definitely recommend it for those readers who have grown disenchanted with the insta-love of many YA novels.

*ARC sent by publisher for review.


  1. I'll be writing a review of this at some point... but while I do agree with a lot of what you said, the one thing I found incredibly frustrating is that even in a book that shows the opposite of the twilight-like insta-love, the girl almost immediately FALLS IN LOVE AGAIN. I really wished it had been a new best friend she found and maybe near the end they kissed or something, rather than throwing her into a brand new relationship that felt extremely rushed as well!

  2. Zoe
    I found that a bit unrealistic but, strangely, it didn't bother me much. Her new relationship seemed a lot slower (at least to me) and even-keeled than the relationship with Christian had been even at the beginning. At least, that's how I saw it.