Book Review: Stay by Deb Caletti

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Stay by Deb CalettiStay by Deb Caletti
Also by this author: A Heart in a Body in the World, Little Universes, One Great Lie
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2012-03-20
Genres: Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Social Issues, Suicide, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Now in paperback, a dark, romantic novel of love and obsession from National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti.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....

FINALLY! Finally it’s happened to me. A book where the creepy relationship is played out as exactly that. Oh, friends, the heavens must have opened and sung a beautiful song while Deb Caletti wrote Stay, because this book straight up gets it. It gets that bad relationships are bad. Obsessive relationships are scary, not sexy.

Clara’s relationship with Christian takes place in a bit of whirlwind and almost sounds like something out of a paranormal book. What with the eyes meeting across a crowded basketball game and the insta-clicking. Things escalate between Clara and Christian into obsession quickly. Escaping to a seaside town with her father, Clara relates to the reader her story of her ‘romance’ with Christian, alternating between past and present. Did I mention how fabulous this book is? Did I mention that Stay calls a spade a spade?

Ok, so straight-up there is none of that bullshit, oh he is acting super jealous and protective he loves me going on in Stay. Instead, Clara is terrified of Christian. She knows he is being a stage five clinger and she does not find it romantic in the least. She recognizes the signs for what they are. I want to go around handing out copies of Stay to young girls and say to them SEE, SEE, this is why those obsessive relationships are unhealthy.

Plus, holy hell does Caletti get characterization right. Clara is timid, yet her voice is frank and honest. We see that Clara has definitely been affected by her relationship. When someone you love is constantly tearing you down and accusing you of sleeping around and criticizes your every move, understandable your self-esteem isn’t going to be at it’s highest. And Caletti nails the vulnerability. She nails Clara’s fragility. Yet, she also gives Clara this resilience, where she doesn’t simply take things lying down. No way. When she’s pushed, she pushes back. Then we have Clara’s dad who is a famous mystery writer. Her dad is fricken awesome. They have this great relationship, full of witty banter. He’s like a male Lorelai Gilmore. Plus her dad is constantly swearing and dropping f-bombs, reminding me of my dad (runs in the family, no doubt). I love the openness of their relationship. I think in issue YA, a lot of the time you do get this crap family life and home, and the reader is all no wonder this character is a PROBLEM CHILD, look at their home life. Well, kids, relationship abuse can happen to anyone, even people from good families.

I also was down for Caletti’s writing style. Previously, I had only read one book by her – The Queen of Everything, back in senior year of high school or college. Something like that. I sort of want to kick myself for not reading more of her. Her style is similar to Dessen, as in you know the story is going to be honest and make you feel all sorts of emotions. I felt a genuine connection to Stay. It’s not just because of my line of work, but because I really felt like Clara was someone I could be friends with. She wasn’t exactly like me or anything, but someone I would click with.

I thought I would leave you with a few quotes so you can get a flavor of Caletti’s style:

“Routine is cement for some people, coziness made solid, certainty building more certainty. For others, routine cracks surfaces with its weight, creating a boredom that presses down and down until something breaks.”

pg. 135 (ARC so wording etc, may change)

“A person shows signs — of clutching on too fast, of being needy, of not hearing the word “no,” of jealousy, of guarding you and your freedom. But the signs can be so small they skitter right past you. Sometimes they dance past, looking satiny, something you should applaud. Someone’s jealousy can make you feel good. Special. But it’s not even about you. It’s about a hand that is already gripping. It’s about their need, circling around your throat.”

pg. 158 (ARC version, which may have changed)

“You gotta love an old fashioned word like ‘quarrelsome.’ Today she’d just be a bitch.”

pg. 205 (ARC version, which may have changed.

I really want to end on this note, if you are in an unhealthy relationship, please talk to someone. Even if you aren’t ready to leave that’s okay. I know that just talking to someone, coming out of isolation can help.

Disclosure: Received for review

Other Reviews:

Sarah’s Random Musings
All About {N}
Chick Loves Lit

Purchase Stay here.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Moving this one up in my TBR thanks to your review! 😀

  2. YES!!! I’m so glad you liked it. I haven’t read this one in particular but I LOVE Caletti (just finished reading my fourth book by her, The Six Rules of Maybe). My favorite is The Nature of Jade, which is fantastic. Stay sounds wonderful! I’ve been spreading her books out slowly and taking my time with them, but I think Stay will have to be one I read soon! Thanks. 🙂

    • I’ve only read The Queen Of Everything aside from Stay, and you know what, I think I need to read more of them. I take your ringing endorsements pretty seriously, so I will totally hop on reading The Nature of Jade soon!

  3. Thanks for the review! I have this book as well but wasn’t eager to read it until now 🙂

  4. Loving this book so far, even though it’s really hitting close to home for high school me. Your review was AWESOME and Caletti is an absolutely gorgeous writer. Her words are like pretty pictures.

  5. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I’ve heard mixed things, but it’s nice to hear that you thought the creep-factor was perfect. 🙂

    • The creep factor was dead on. Honestly, this book is for people who like their YA a bit more sophisticated than people who like a simplistic story with cut and dry good guys and cut and dry bad guys.

  6. This book has been on my radar, but I really loved your review, and now it’s on my LIST. Thanks!

  7. I’ve been a little dubious about this one, but you’ve convinced me that I should read it. Thanks for the review!

  8. YES, thank you. Love your review, and I felt the same way about the book. I saw somewhere that people felt sorry for Christian, and I was like ‘are you kidding?’ … yes, he’s a messed up, sad character, but what he was doing was wrong. Just because you’re not physically hitting someone, doesn’t mean you’re not abusing them. I really loved this book… it was so beautifully written.

    • OH I know what you are talking about. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about.

      I hate the perception that it’s only abuse if it’s physical. That emotional abuse isn’t as bad as physical abuse and that if it’s emotional, then oh the guy just needs help and he is the one to feel pity from, not the victim. I mean, that’s classic victim blaming behavior and it is so messed up.

  9. This review is made of win! If I hadn’t already read this, I would have to run out and get it ASAP because you detailed its strengths so well!

  10. Awesome review April. Awesome. I’ve been wanting to read this one since I saw it start popping up, but I was planning on waiting for a while before I sought out a copy. Now I doubt I will…

  11. I can’t remembe what page it was on, but this was my favourite quote;
    I don’t know why we insist on pain when pain is so often easy to eliminate. It’s funny the ways we try to punish ourselves when we feel we’ve committed some crime.
    I thought that it captured the psyche of Clara really well.
    I loved this novel and I agree completely with you – it needs to be handed out to girls to show them that this type of relationship isn’t what you should be in.
    Great review!

  12. Amen for calling what obsessiveness is: creeptastic. Hello, Edward Cullen? This book looks excellent…thanks for the recommendation!


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