Morgan F's Reviews > Stay

Stay by Deb Caletti
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I always knew you had it in you, Caletti. I've read a few books of yours, and while they were good, certainly more substantial than most YA literature, there has always been something missing. I think, whatever that is, you've found it.

Clara is at the age when she is supposed to spending time with her friends in the last summer before college and her future starts. Instead, her and her father have packed their bags and are leaving town to spend the summer in small coastal town where no one knows who they are. A place where no one can find them.

Clara is escaping from her ex-boyfriend, Christian, an intense, needy boy who just isn't able to let her ago. After nearly two years of jealous accusations, futile discussions, criticisms, and endless and insistent reassurances, Clara has decided she has had enough, although Christian is determined to do anything to make her stay.

I loved this book because it featured an abusive relationship in a realistic light. These relationships are not romantic. They are unhealthy and tragic and just wrong. What I loved about Clara is that she understood that. Once she saw Christian for what he was - a psychologically disturbed young man, she was scared, and rightfully so. And she wasn't weak for falling for him in the first place. Perhaps as a reader, we were able to look into her life, as she did in retrospect, and pick out all the clues and warning signs, but I don't think anyone should blame her or assign guilt. I just like how the relationship and its aftermath was portrayed. Realistically, yet somehow sympathetically. I've never been in anything close to such a destructive romance, but I was still able to relate to Clara perfectly. I understand that it was not her fault, it was something that happened to her, and she was brave to handle it as she did. Quite a refreshing outlook in comparison to other YA novels that portray abusive (because either emotionally or physically, it is abusive) relationships as romantic, can't-live-without-you, I-know-what's-best-for-you, let-me-watch-you-while-you-sleep love.

I also love the relationship between Clara and her father. I wish I had such an awesome relationship with my father. They were open with each other, had good witty banter, were friends but it was still clear it was a father/daughter relationship. Kind of like the relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Clara's father was an influential and active part of Clara's life, and was his own character with his own complexities. Unlike most YA novels, he is not just a plot device.

One thing I've loved about every Caletti novel I've read is the writing. I just think she is spectacular. Although some of her syntax may be clumsy, her prose is overall lyrical and very, very truthful. Every chapter is like a goldmine, with little nuggets of awesome found everywhere. She has a way of taking the most ordinary, every day things and relating it to the meaning of the universe or something. People have a way of not noticing ordinary things, just because we become so accustomed to them. Caletti has a habit of pointing out the overlooked things, and casting them in a new, sometimes bittersweet, light.

I also loved the footnotes. They were so cute. And often very, very funny. Clara is quirky, charming, and real.

The only aspect of the novel that didn't exactly hit home with me was the rather optimistic relationship between Clara and Finn. It was cute and all, but perhaps a bit too fast and unrealistic. I think perhaps it sends the wrong message that in order to get over one relationship, one must enter a new one. I didn't think it was necessary to the story, and the book would have been just as powerful if they had stayed friends.

This book is surprisingly tense. It had me turning the pages long after I should have stopped. I was just racing for the relief of all that tension. The novel felt like all along it was building towards something that would culminate in one big dramatic explosion. That didn't happen. I would even venture to say the ending was a tad bit melodramatic. But I don't think that is a bad thing. If anything, it only adds to how true this book is. Real life is not a movie or a story. Life doesn't end after the final scene of the film or the final chapter of a novel. It's an ongoing reel, full of ups and downs. It doesn't have one big moment. It's all one big moment.

Overall, a powerful, truthful novel. Caletti has climbed her way to a well-deserved spot amongst my favorite authors. God, I hope this book is a commercial success. It needs to be.

Thank you, Simon & Schuster Galleygrab for providing me with an ARC copy :) It has been greatly appreciated.

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Reading Progress

03/31/2011 page 183
52.0% "Filled with little perfect moments."

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by Nic (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nic :D


Morgan F I'm about 180 pages in so far, and I want to keep reading!

Alas.....homework.


message 3: by Nic (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nic Don't worry about homework, you have already got accepted to college. Keep reading :P


Morgan F ......Exactly what I was thinking Nic :)


~Tina~ LOL!!


Arlene LOL! Bad Nic! Go do your homework Morgan. Gives me time to catch up to you. :P


Sarai I heard good things about this book :)


~Tina~ Great review Morg! I must read more books by her.


message 9: by Nomes (new)

Nomes argh. this review completely ROCKS


Lamia Awesome review! This makes me want to grab the book right NOW. Ugh. Must.Not.Read.49874398478737.books.at the same time. *chants*


Arlene This review is perfect Morgan! I loved this book a ton too! Like you said, so truthful and just real. Glad you enjoyed it too. =}


Morgan F Thanks, guys!


message 13: by Nic (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nic I loved the footnotes too! Caletti is awesome and so is your review Morgan!


message 14: by Cory (new)

Cory I've been waiting for a win from Caletti. I've read three of her books before, and they weren't that spectacular to me. Kind of like a mix between Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott. But if she's finally stepped up to the ranks of a Sara Zarr or a Melina Marchetta; well, I might be checking this out very soon.


message 15: by Milly (new) - added it

Milly I've been staying away from Caletti after one bad expxerience with a book of hers. But after reading yours and Arlene's review of Stay, I might just pick this book up and take a chance on it! Wonderful review!


Morgan F I love Caletti's writing, even when in some books her plot is a bit weak. I also love her characters. She's one of the authors I knew always had the potential, and she was closer to a homerun in this book then she has ever been before.


Natalie love your review, Morgan :D


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