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Stay, Deb Caletti

2011/06/29

Love at first sight. It’s what every teenage girl dreams of, right? And for Clara, her first sighting of Christian at a high school basketball game seems to be exactly that. Clara and Christian meet again at the next game, and are soon inseparable. Christian is charming, adoring, and has a cute accent, and Clara falls hard for him. She writes effusively of the feeling of new love, of learning and discovering things about a person, of becoming “us.” And yet from the start of this novel, you can tell that you are being led up to something not-quite-good.

The narrator refers to “what if” and other reflections in hindsight, which kept me turning the pages quickly to see what exactly was going to happen. The book is easy to read, and Clara inserts funny little footnotes in the text, perhaps due to the fact that her father is also a writer, a novelist. Some of Clara’s epiphanies come across a little cliched, but within the context of the story still manage to work, such as “You know this is true if something terrible has happened to you. A thousand objects take on new meaning. Everything is a reminder of something else. A business card will never be just a business card. A handful of change will not. A rope will not” (43). I appreciate Clara’s progression through the relationship, her acknowledgement of the feelings and her denial that anything is wrong, while retrospectively pointing out how she should have acted, as well as her eventual realization that she cannot be responsible for the actions of another person. Clara’s father is supportive, taking action when apprised of the situation, and being the parent when it is necessary. Caletti is known for her realistic young adult fiction, and for addressing topics which aren’t always handled well in that genre, such as mental illness, teenage parenthood, and in this novel, obsession and co-dependence. As always, it is well-written and does not preach.

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