Sunday, May 1, 2011

Review: Stay by Deb Caletti

And fate gives love some extra authority. Like it's been stamped with approval from above, if you believe in above. A godly green light. Some destined significance.

Clara meets Christian by chance and from the moment they meet their relationship is intense. They are drawn to each other, very attracted to each other, and Clara hasn't ever felt this way about another boy. But things in their relationship quickly change once Clara realizes that Christian is jealous and controlling. This is slowly revealed to the reader, though, because Clara is looking back on her relationship with Christian from the perspective of having run away from him. She and her dad are hiding in waterfront town, learning how to live and love again. There's a great feeling of suspense though...just what happened that forced them to do this?

I have a lot of feelings about Stay. When I heard it was about an emotionally obsessive relationship, I wanted to read it. I think that right now there are a lot of stories being told in the YA realm and even on television that romanticize this kind of love. Having been in a relationship that was emotionally dependent and unbalanced, it makes me really uncomfortable. In fact, the reason I never read past the first Twilight book is that while my head recognized how unhealthy the relationship was, I was still drawn to it. I didn't want that window in my life, to think that kind of thing was good, so I refrained from reading the rest of the books. In many ways, Stay feels like a direct response to books like Twilight, and there's even a part in the book where Clara addresses this. So I'm glad that Caletti chose to address this problem by writing a book about how sometimes that sort of all consuming love is not such a good thing. It's not normal.

One of the things I really loved is how in the beginning she shows the appeal for Clara. Clara feels powerful because she feels sexy. She feels powerful because Christian wants her so much. There's a great allure in that. I feel like this could have been more fleshed out. One gripe I have, is that even while Clara describes things like how jealous Christian became and how she learned to alter her behavior to keep the peace, she feels strangely detached from it. She doesn't seem desperate not to lose him. That sense of power seems to disappear, the pull of his controlling behavior being equated with how special it makes her feel doesn't get fully addressed. I had a hard time understanding why Clara stayed with Christian for as long as she did because I wasn't fully allowed into her emotions and thought processes.

Part of this could be because of the alternating stories....Clara is telling this story while she's also rebuilding her life. In some ways I see how this could be really effective...contrasting the Christian and Clara relationship with the new healthy relationship she is forming...but it feels really ambitious for a short book.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I liked it a lot. I wanted to applaud out loud at how well Caletti phrases certain things, turning some of these ideas on their head to show just how sick and unhealthy they are. And ultimately, I don't think her point was to talk about obsessive relationships so much as how we can't cut the bad stuff out of our life. The relationships we've had, the things we've done, they form us and continue to influence who we are today. We can't compartmentalize our lives--the things we've done the people we've known are all a part of us. And that's a really beautiful and brave message.

Some little quotes I loved:
"My father said that love at first sight should send you running, if you know what's good for you. It's your dark pieces having an instant recognition with their dark peices, he says."

"I learned that the most true-love words are not ones that grasp and hold and bind you, twisting you both up together in some black dance. No, they are ones that leave you free to stand alone on your own solid ground, leave him to do the same, a tender space between you."

Also, this book has footnotes...which is kind of strange but also kind of fun.

Rating: 4.25/5
Things You Might Want to Know: Profanity
Source of Book: Purchased
Publisher: SimonPulse (Simon and Schuster)


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to comment! I appreciate hearing your thoughts.