Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stay by Deb Caletti

Stay is the first novel I have read by YA author Deb Caletti, and it is told in chapters alternating between two times in Clara's life. In the past, Clara has just begun to fall in love with the intense and captivating Christian, but as the present story implies, things do not go exactly as planned and Clara is forced to leave her city behind to spend the summer by the ocean where nobody can find her. Especially Christian. Stay is a story of what happens when love stops being safe.

Clara's voice is both believable and beautiful, and I really enjoyed Caletti's writing and so Stay has definitely made me interested in picking up other books by her. It is the second young adult novel I have read which has footnotes, the first being An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, and I did feel they worked well and helped add more dimension to her voice by letting the reader in on extra bits of information. However, at times I found Caletti got too caught up in using them, even when they were pointless, for example the one that a boat called Freebird is named after a Lynyrd Skynyrd song because its original owner liked the band, which really doesn't add anything to the story.

With so many current young adult novels making possessive, instalove, relationship seems desirable and realistic to teens, it was refreshing to read a book where the other side of the story is told. At first, Clara enjoys Christian's attention but eventually she realizes, "You take care of the people you love, but it’s true, too, that you take care of the things you own." Stay tells such an important story, and Caletti's way of explaining things, how a girl could let the situation get so bad, is authentic and powerful. At one point, Clara says:
"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 is no way out. And we like being his, until we realize we’re not ours anymore."
The only thing that made me uncomfortable about Stay was after getting out of such a horrible and serious relationship which was rushed both emotionally and physically, Clara seems to jump right into things with Finn, a new guy she meets during the summer, in a way that didn't seem healthy. After being so controlled by Christian, it would have been nice to see her confident on her own and not rushing into a new relationship, maybe it wouldn't have bothered me so much if her relationship with Finn hadn't been rushed, but emotionally, I really felt like it was. It does provide a contrast between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship, but it also makes Clara come across as far to dependent in a way that isn't healthy either.  

Overall, I found the premise of Stay to be both relevant, and well-executed. I loved the relationship Clara had with her father, and found that her voice was believable and lovely to read. Ultimately, Clara's struggle is heart-breaking, but provides such an important reminder about unhealthy relationships and Caletti's writing in Stay is beautiful and moving, I just wish the novel had provided a little more support for being happy and confident on your own before you move onto a new relationship.

Release Date: April 5th, 2011
Pages: 320
Source: Simon and Schuster Galley Grab
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  1. This YA sounds so good. I have only heard of recently and all the reviews have been positive.

  2. This sounds worthwhile. I'm adding it to my TBR. Thank you!


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