Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Stay by Deb Caletti

Title: Stay
Author: Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: April 5th 2011
Pages: 313
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
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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....
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Everyone seems to love Deb Caletti, but when I read my first Caletti book, The Queen of Everything, maybe two years ago, I was not impressed. Actually, that's an understatement - I hated the book with a passion. And ever since then, I've been Deb-Caletti-traumatized. But because everyone kept insisting that Deb Caletti was great, I finlally complied and gave her another chance, this time with one of her newer books. I had my doubts when I started Stay, but I ended up really enjoying it!

Deb Caletti's writing is gorgeous. I don't know what happened - either Deb Caletti grew immensely as a writer since her debut, or I used to be incapable of understanding what good writing means. Either way, I loved the writing in Stay. The prose is very descriptive, but not in a way that would get boring; just in a way that will make you stop at the beauty of the words, the cleverness of the expressive metaphors, and the feelings they evoke in you. I know comparing a contemporary YA author to Sarah Dessen is as uninventive as you can get, but Deb Caletti's writing really does have a Dessen-esque quality to it.

What's best about this book, asides from the gorgeous writing, is the atmosphere. There's a creepy, scary feeling to this story - even though there's no real danger for 90% of the book, there's an underlying feeling that it could all come crashing down in a minute. Despite Stay being mainly a story of character development, it had me on the edge of my seat with the suspense of whether Christian really will find Clara.

Abusive relationships are always a difficult topic, since you have to strike a delicate balance between explaining what a threat the abuser imposes and showing the reader why the MC would stay with him, but Deb Caletti handles it masterfully. Despite knowing the outcome, I couldn't help but understand Clara's attraction to Christian. It feels wrong to say this, but I really did like these two together in the beginning. It's hard to understand what goes on in the mind of the abused, but Deb Caletti made me understand where Clara is coming from. Of course I don't agree with her choices, but I felt each of Clara's emotions, and in turn got her reasoning and her need to stay with Christian. That's not to say it's all harmless - Christian is a very threatening character. He's not physically abusive, but the mental games he plays are somehow even scarier. You can't help but want to know what he's capable of, how far he will go. Christian is an intriguing character, and I would have loved to know even more about him and his past, how it came to be that he is the way he is.

Family also plays an important role Stay, and I really enjoyed that storyline. Clara's mom died a long time ago, and there are some secrets and mystery surrounding her death. Clara now lives alone with her dad, whom I loved - such a fun character! The father is definitely unique, and I really enjoyed the father-daughter relationship. The family friends are great characters, too - some very unique personalities.

The only storyline I didn't love is the romance. The whole idea that Clara would need a new guy to get over what happened with Christian didn't sit right with me. Finn seemed like a very bland character to me - he has some interesting history, but that is never really explored. I didn't feel the connection between Clara and Finn. You know I love romance, but the scenes between Clara and Finn are the ones I least enjoyed, and I really don't think this book needed the romance.

I'm not a fan of the last few scenes - the ending is a tad too melodramatic for me.

Still, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Considering my hate for The Queen of Everything, Stay has definitely been a huge improvement. Deb Caletti really impressed me with her writing, and I'm glad I gave her another chance.

Are there any authors you didn't love at first read but grew on you when you gave them a second chance?


  1. I have heard she's a fab author but I haven't read anything by her yet. I am glad to get a warning that I may not like her older books but to try her newer ones, or Stay at least. I have some of her older ones on my shelf.
    I REALLY want to read Stay after reading your review. I was in an abusive relationship and while I don't think I really need any reminders of it, I do enjoy seeing when the girls find their way out. I wish that they would have some where the girl finds their way without a new romance. Girls need to know that they don't need ANYONE, they can survive on their own.

  2. I'm one of the Deb Caletti fan girls, but The Queen of Everything was one of my least favorites....Stay was SO good though! I hope it opened you up to want to try more of hers.

  3. My first Deb Caletti book was actually her newest one, The Story of Us. And I didn't like it at all. But I think I may still give this one a try. Thanks for the review. :)

  4. Not surprisingly, you and I had the same reaction to this book. I really liked it -- I first read The Queen of Everything and I actually liked it, but I tried the rest of her books and just, nope. Didn't care for any of them, really. But this one was pretty much the Dreamland to her collection, and it sticks out in my mind as the best. I didn't like the forced relationship, or Christian, but that's a YA book for you.

  5. I'm always reluctant to go back to a writer I did not enjoy the first time. I should give them room to grow & improve.

  6. The Queen of Everything was my first Caletti book too and I wasn't very impressed. I'm glad that I gave her another try as I've pretty much devoured everything else that she has written. Stay is a personal favorite. I'm glad you liked Stay too. :]


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