Stay by Deb Caletti

     Stay by Deb Caletti

     Published April 5th 2011 by Simon Pulse

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     First Line: First off, I've never told this story to anyone.

     It's true that very little, if anything, can compare to your first love. It's exhilarating- that sudden onslaught of a new emotion so intense you marvel at your heart's new found ability to feel something so exquisite. How is it possible to feel this way when you never even knew you could? You revel in it, drink it in, savoring every taste until you're drunk with it. For a time, nothing else exists but the insatiable need for this other person. You want more. You've never been so greedy.
     When Clara meets Christian, suddenly there are only two people left on earth. Neither can get their fill of the other. Hasty promises are made that they will love each other forever and for all she knew, when she said it, Clara truly meant she would never leave him.
     But Christian's ardent attention soon turns into jealousy. Every male is a threat to his relationship with Clara. Her friends exist only to keep him from her. In angry, hurt tones he accuses her of cheating and begins to scrutinize her every word and move, watchful for even a hint of deception. Soon, this love that Clara couldn't get enough of becomes suffocating. She wants out, even though Christian made her promise never to leave him, and he's not going to let her forget it.
"It's strange, isn't it, how the idea of belonging to someone can sound so great? It can be comforting, the way it makes things decided. We like the thought of being held, until it's too tight. We like that certainty, until it means there's no way out. And we like being his, until we realize we're not ours anymore."
Contemporary YA and I are only just becoming friends. I've long preferred things with a magical air and I dove head first into all the fantasy and paranormal YA floating around out there. Pure escapism, easy reads, for the most part, with very little emotional investment. It wasn't until I read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher that I discovered what I was really missing. Since then, I've become rather infatuated with these contemporary, ahem, darker, depictions of young life. And though I'm much too old for the majority of them to relate, I can appreciate the lessons and wish I had learned them much earlier on.

Stay has a lesson for you. Love, even with all the goodness and wonder it brings, can be the most dangerous of emotions. It's sneaky about it too- its evil silently piggybacking its way in with the bliss that you're all too eager to invite into your life. You bask in it, never knowing what love has hidden behind its back.
"I've heard that people stay in bad situations because a relationship like that gets turned up by degrees. It is said that a frog will jump out of a pot of boiling water. But place him in a pot and turn it up a little at a time, and he will stay until he is boiled to death. Us frogs understand this."
     Clara found herself in a controlling relationship that had just begun to skirt the edges of violent when she finally decided to get out. Her father takes her away for the summer, telling no one where they've gone. Over the summer, away from Christian's incessant pleas for her to take him back, she's finally able to come to terms with what happened. And what almost happened. She's once again free to say what she likes, dress how she likes, and see who she likes without the constant threat that any wrong move could trigger an emotionally violent reaction.
     It's wonderful how she helps with her own healing. Clara has once again found herself, or rather, a battle weary but wiser version of herself. She knows now that someone who loves you, doesn't treat you like that, and she understands that Christian's illness was not her doing. She accepts what has happened and makes every attempt to move on.
     The writing is absolutely phenomenal. I got caught up in Clara's expressions and insights, some of which can just simply gut you. The story is told in both the past and the present, you see Clara's relationship with Christian first hand and you experience each moment of her recovery along side her. She makes new friends, and yes, even finds a new love and then next page you're right back in the past with Christian as his actions become more and more disturbing. You also, turn every single page dreading that on the next page, he finds her.
     I wonder, are all Caletti's books this intense? Can she portray this much realistic emotion and reaction in every book? I reread the last few paragraphs of this book again and again because I just couldn't get over how good Caletti's writing was. It was days before I could shake off the good-book-hangover brought on by her words.

I picked up Honey, Baby, Sweetheart because I'm anxious to see if this is the norm for her. I hope so.

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