When Clara and Christian meet at a basketball game, they have instant chemistry. Things progress quickly, and soon they are spending almost all their time either with each other or talking to each other. It doesn’t take long, though, before Christian’s love turns into obsession, and what once was a fun high school relationship takes a much more serious turn.
Christian is jealous, oversensitive, and emotionally abusive. For a while, Clara wonders what she’s doing wrong to make him so mad, but after a series of confrontations that escalate in their intensity, Clara knows it’s time to get away. Clara and her dad take off in an effort to cut the ties between Clara and Christian and allow her to redevelop her identity as a strong and single individual. Can Clara truly outrun Christian’s “love,” or will he convince her to stay?
Are you, like me, one of those readers confused by Twilight-like love? Did you also find Edward creepy when he said things like, “I like to watch you sleep,” and acted overprotective, jealous, and clingy? If so, then Deb Caletti’s Stay might be the book for you. This is a novel in which obsessive and volatile relationships are portrayed as frightening and unhealthy instead of swoon worthy. Sure, this book has insta-love, too, but its consequences don’t involve happily ever afters. In this case, nothing good comes from trying to change yourself to be with somebody else.
In chapters that alternate between past and present tense, Stay portrays a relationship spiraling out of control, the sense of foreboding building with each page. Caletti’s complex handling of the abuse shows a true understanding of what it is like to be on both ends of the situation, the fragility and insecurity of each character adding to this dangerous mix. Not only is Stay a hauntingly good read, it is one that I hope will show teen girls the difference between abusive and healthy relationships (along with upcoming novels such as But I Love Him by Amanda Grace and Bitter End by Jennifer Brown). For every guy out there who makes you feel like you need to become a vampire, there’s another who will make you want to stay just as you are.