Stay (by Deb Caletti)

11 09 2012

It seems like the cat has been away forever… but she’s been reading… just not writing anything down. So the next couple of reviews will be a bit shorter than usual…

Deb Caletti’s Stay is about how a chance encounter leads to an obsessive relationship and the consequences this may bring about for the victim(s) involved.  Clara is the 17-year-old protagonist who tells the story of her relationship with Christian: Scandinavian, blond, perfect… right up until she realizes that beneath his good looks, his concerns for her ‘well-being’ basically lies some seriously disturbing stalker-ish Edward Cullen obsession, and that staying with him is just not an option.

Deb Caletti takes the all-consuming love concept (a concept that many if not most teenagers are prone to identify with) to its most literal extreme and poignantly describes how – in the name of love – people can be emotionally used and abused up to an absolute breaking point where the victim in the relationship feels like they have to make allowances for the other one constantly. At first, there’s nothing really wrong with Christian: he’s loving, devoted and extremely caring… a little bit too caring. And Clara starts to feel like she has to watch what she says, what she does, what clothes she wears, the people she sees, her entire life starts to revolve around accommodating Christian and his sick jealousy, even obsession.

In a narrative line that is set after the entire experience, we get to see Clara as she is coping with things now. With her father they have escaped to a beach house for the summer, telling other people they have gone to Europe. Because even after she has severed all ties with Christian, it is clear that she is not yet free of him. Caletti, though, manages not only to make the Christian-Clara storyline interesting. Also the Clara-Dad relationship is a very believable relationship. Clara’s mom died when she was young, and it’s obvious that her dad clearly has some issues to get through himself. Away from their life for the summer, they may both just manage doing that.

Stay is nothing if not a very important story about obsession, manipulation and the bravery it takes to turn your life around. It is the type of book that should be read by anyone who feels they might be in the wrong type of relationship. Also, it’s a great way to learn about appreciating who you are yourself, as an individual person, not linked to or bound  to anyone else. It’s an ambitious story that is not without its flaws (the footnotes are not really pertinent to the story; the newish relationship felt a bit ‘too fast’), but one which is nevertheless convincing.

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