Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Stay

Stay - Deb Caletti Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.It began at a basketball game and went downhill from there. Clara and Christian's relationship seemed like a dream at the start and maybe even a love that was meant to be, but it soon revealed itself to be a nightmare. Christian's obsession with Clara forces her and her father to flee to Bishop Rock for a summer to get away from him and keep the two apart. Clara, still dealing with all the guilt and fear that her relationship left her with, starts to like Bishop Rock, her snappy boss Sylvie (who's taking a liking to Clara's father), and a sailor boy named Finn. But Christian isn't going away that easily and secrets--not just Clara's secrets, but the secrets of many people--will drown you if you don't let them go.Books about obsession or obsessive love portrayed as such are my ultimate drug. I rarely read them so that I can keep the magic (and also because I have some trouble finding them; I would love recommendations, if you could be so kind), but I love them so much. Caletti took my favorite subject and wrote a phenomenal book I know will join my list of favorites and be reread in the future.For all the ideas out there that getting out of an unhealthy relationship is as easy as saying it's over, it's not that easy. Many times, as in Clara's case, the ex refuses to let it lie and will beg for another chance, sometimes putting themselves and others in danger in the process. The guilt Clara feels, how she had to tiptoe around and be careful about what she said so Christian wouldn't get mad or jealous, that feeling that you have to fix what's wrong because it's your fault they feel that way or it's your job as their loved one--it matches everything I've ever learned from independent research and even what a friend who was once in that sort of relationship told me.Sometimes, it was downright frustrating to see Clara do the things she did for Christian, but that's how it is. She didn't know any better or what she could have done at the time. Stay often reads like a memoir, one woman's tale of her past experiences, and she reflects deeply on what she's been through and what she could have done differently. Lyrical prose with similes, metaphors, and ruminations on subjects like words themselves give Stay depth, though it often goes overboard and has multiple deep musings in just a few pages.This book had me gripped the entire time, especially in chapters and scenes where we go back to when Clara and Christian were dating and what happened shortly after their breakup. Scenes where Christian demonstrated just how deeply obsessed he was left me bug-eyed; my hands shook as they held the book and I read like that was all that kept me alive. Another frustration was the way flashbacks and the present were alternated between for most of the book because I wanted all of the story now, damn it, but it kept me reading exactly like it was supposed to.And the story isn't completely about Clara's secrets and the aftermath of her relationship. We get subplots about her father too! Clara and her father had a special, close relationship the likes of which are rarely seen in young adult books anymore, and he was just as enjoyable and flawed of a character as Clara was. Going along with the theme of how secrets can harm you, he had a few of his own revealed slowly throughout the book. Initially, he is just Clara's dad the famous mystery writer; by the end of the novel, he is Bobby Oates to both Clara and the reader and not just the dad anymore. How many books can you name that take the parent and turn them into more than a parent?If I loved it so much, what keeps me from giving it the best rating possible? Two things. This was supposed to be the final copy, but I saw multiple areas where further editing was needed, even when considering Clara's love of sentences that aren't always right grammatically, or blatant mistakes were made. Mistakes like "moving" where "movie" should be, occasional moments of stilted writing, and the misspelling of one character's name. Sentences like "My school was playing his, and I was there with my friend Shakti, who was watching her boyfriend Luke, number sixteen, who was at that moment sitting on the bench and drumming his fingers on his knee like he did when he was nervous (p.2)" make me cringe.Then Clara does something stupid halfway through the book: call her friend and tell her where she is. When it comes to events that push the plot, there are ones that feel like they fall into the natural sequence of events and then there are unnatural ones that feel like they were written in solely to move the plot along. Clara's call felt like the latter. She didn't seem like the kind of character to ignore the advice of a seasoned law enforcement officer who knew what he was talking about when it came to stalkers and obsessive exes.I would love to see a companion novel to Stay from Christian's point of view so we could get his perspective on his relationship with Clara and see just how deep his obsession runs. If there's anything that fascinates me more than seeing obsession through the eyes of the object of obsession, it's seeing the same thing through the eyes of the one with the obsession. I won't hold my breath on that book, but that would no doubt be just as awesome a book as Stay was.