Rummanah Aasi
  Relationships are complicated. With emotions and hormones ranging, it's hard to distinguish what is and isn't a healthy relationship. It startling to read statistics on teen dating violence. Programs such as Love is Not Abuse works along with teens in educating them on what exactly is domestic violence and how they can help end the cycle of abuse. Books like Stay by Deb Caletti also help teens deal with emotional abusive relationships and hopefully, give them courage to speak up and get help.

Description: Clara has just graduated from high school. She ended her intense relationship with Christian, but doesn't seem to get the hint. His obsessive behaviors causes Clara and her father travel to a remote region of Washington State. In hoping of starting over again, Clara meets Finn who captain a sailboat and works for a lighthouse keeper who is hiding something, and a friend of her father who knows the lighthouse keeper's secret.Clara tries to move forward but her past always gets in the way. Can she finally find peace from Christian? What is the lighthouse keeper's secret and does it have something to do with her father's strange behavior?

Review: Stay examines an unhealthy, obsessive relationship as seen in its aftermath. Clara catches Christian's eye from across a crowded gymnasium. Instantaneously, they become an exclusive couple with elevated emotions and promises to be together forever. However, Clara soon realizes that exclusivity means something completely different to her boyfriend as Christian's devotion takes a frightening turn to emotional and verbal abuse including stalking Clara. In order to protect his daughter and to give her safe place to start over, Clara's famous novelist father takes her away to a sleepy coastal town without notifying anyone of their new location.
  The story is told in two alternating story lines and time period. In the present, we learn about Clara and her father's life at the beach, and in the past Clara opens up to the reader about her unsteady relationship with Christian. Caletti's writing shines through in the chapters that take place in the past because the reader feels like they are witnessing Clara's attempt to be honest with herself and her realization that she needs help and is afraid of what Christian will do next. Though it may seem that Christian is a flat character, his threat is definitely alarming and important to take note. I think we were not suppose to get personally vested in Christian unlike our heroine in order to see and analyze his actions unbiasedly. There is a sweet romance between Clara and Finn, which serves as a contrast to the abnormal, dangerous relationship and prevents the book from being a completely dark and depressing story. Also the secondary characters and a subplot involving secrets that Clara father has add layers of depth to the story. I loved the relationship between Clara and her father, which seemed genuine and realistic.
  I was a bit annoyed with the footnotes found throughout the story, which I felt was disruptive and pointless. I also felt there are some metaphors and allegories that were too forced in the story. Yet despite these flaws, I think Stay is an important book that should be read and discussed, especially amongst teen girls.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some allusion to sex and strong lanugage. Recommended to strong Grade 8 readers and up.

If you like this book try: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn or Things Change by Patrick Jones
2 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Beautiful review Rummanah, I've heard nothing but good things about this one! Interesting about the footnotes though, what do they say? I love that her father is a strong presence in this story, especially when she's dealing with an abusive relationship. Looking forward to this one!

  2. Thanks, Jenny. The footnotes are generally an extension of Clara's thoughts that aren't really important to the narrative. For example, she'll mention a food that go on about how this one time she ate it and didn't like it.

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