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Book Cover Image: Stay by Deb CalettiTitle: Stay

Author: Deb Caletti

Synopsis (Courtesy of IndieBound): “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….”

Thoughts: For those who have ever criticized young adult romances for their unhealthy approach to relationships, Stay is exactly what the doctor ordered. Clara’s relationship with Christian starts out in the traditional way that society has come to romanticize when it comes to young love – love at first sight, the idea of being soul mates, the constant need to be together or talk to one another, and the feeling of being complete when together. Yet, real life is never quite this amazing, and Ms. Caletti takes no prisoners with her story on abusive relationships.

The story comes together through Clara’s authentic voice. She tells her story with stark honesty, recognizing moments that the reader may be most dubious and commenting on it. Even though the reader knows that the events being told happened in the past, the sense of guilt Clara felt at her supposed part in Christian’s behavior still shines through her storytelling. This adds such an air of realism, that it feels as if the events are happening immediately rather than have already happened.

Even better, Clara tells her story in fits and starts, reflecting on her relationship with Christian and then focusing on her relationship with her father and burgeoning relationship with Finn. The reader knows something awful has happened but cannot tell exactly what it was until such time as Clara decides to unveil the full story. This building sense of doom keeps the reader turning the page, anxious to find out if Clara’s fears about Christian come true.

Yet, Stay is not just about Clara’s relationship with her former boyfriend; it also touches on her relationship with her father and the need for it to grow beyond protector and protected. It is about uncovering some hidden truths behind her parents’ relationship and the consequences these have had upon her life. Ultimately, it is about Clara’s ability to grow beyond her current relationships and rediscover herself again.

Stay is a wonderfully honest, refreshing look at damaging relationships, how easy it is to get into one and how difficult they are to end. Ms. Caletti showcases the psychological damage they instill on the victim and the tremendous strength it takes to overcome the damage. Growing up is never easy, and these obsessive relationships, as glamorized by certain movies and other novels, make it even more so. Stay is a great reminder of this while being an immensely enjoyable read.

Thanks to Simon and Schuster‘s Galley Grab for this review copy!

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