Stay by Deb Caletti
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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....
My Take: Wow. Deb Caletti understands the intricacies of relationships to such a degree, this book had me revisiting my own ghosts I've run from and shoved into a closet. Speaking of ghosts, what beautiful symbolism she uses! Ghosts are real to those who believe in them. They could be our past, people from our past, our fears, or whatever else haunts us. They become less relevant as we learn to forgive others, forgive ourselves, and let go of fear.
So Clara announces to her social circle that she's spending the summer in Europe and she and her dad rent a cottage on the beach. This is the space that she needs to regroup herself and put the past in perspective. Little does she know that the beach they choose is supposedly rife with ghosts. Not only that, her dad has his own.
The story begins with Clara and her dad driving to the beach house. The chapters then leapfrog from then and now, colliding near the end as her past meets her present. Anybody that has been in an obsessive, controlling, manipulative relationship will recognize themselves and the feelings associated. Caletti creates the characters in a way that they are believable and real. They are you, him, her. I remembered the revulsion, disgust, suffocation, pity, and entrapment. But I also remembered my shame and guilt.
Sheez, Deb, I happily shoved that ghost and its skeletons in a closet years ago. The difference between Clara and I is that when I spread the rumor I was going to Europe, I WENT to Europe. And, yes, he was there waiting to be dumped. Again.
Caletti paints Christian as a complex character, again, the kind you know. He is not bad or one dimensional. He is empty, hurt, manipulative with his weakness, alone, isolated, isolating, lovable, caring, all those adjectives that attract a girl and manipulate. She describes the paradigm of leaving the one you love but hate. She also brings symbolism of Clara's life and relationships into perspective.
I loved it.
Be forewarned of language. Lots of "f" bombs, deity swearing, among my favorite farm words.