4.1 87
by Deb Caletti

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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 goneSee more details below


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....

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
Clara Oates has a boyfriend problem. Last year's boyfriend was a slacker. This year's is so dangerously obsessed with her that, as the book opens, Clara and her father, a crime writer, are escaping from their home in Seattle to a small fishing town on the coast. The novel is told in chapters that alternate between flashbacks of her relationship with Christian during her senior year of high school, and the present, the summer following graduation. Although readers learn in the second chapter that Clara has safely extricated herself from Christian, suspense remains high. How badly did he mistreat her? How will she recover emotionally from a relationship that was both alluring and frightening? Caletti speaks directly and convincingly to her readers about the obsession that the teens feel for each other. And, as narrator, Clara speaks directly also through first-person narrative and clever footnoted asides. A sub-plot concerns her father and his growing relationship with two women in town, especially Sylvie, for whom Clara works, both of whom he knew many years ago. Clara senses that they know something about her mother's death, which she has been told was caused by an aneurysm. When her father confesses that he had an affair with Sylvie and that Clara's mother committed suicide, she does not want to listen. But, because untold stories have a weight that can drown you, she knows she must. By the end of the summer, following a harrowing (if trite) scene with Christian on a stormy beach, father and daughter decide to stay in the small town as each pursues healthy new relationships and Clara decides what to do next. Dialogue includes some swearing, and there are references, though no explicit descriptions, of sex scenes. This is a rich, believable story with important but not heavy-handed lessons. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Interweaving a young woman's past and present experiences in alternating chapters, this novel reveals how Clara's romance with Christian tips slowly but inexorably toward obsession during her junior and senior years of high school. After graduation, Clara and her father slip off to a Washington beach town in secret to escape her now ex-boyfriend's frightening and unpredictable reach into her current life. In this cunningly crafted narrative, readers will slowly come to understand the danger posed by the cute Scandinavian boy who swept Clara off her feet and how what feels like love can crack and crumble when an insecure and possessive guy won't accept their breakup. Her summer job at a lighthouse and the friends she and her father meet, especially Finn, who sails his family's tourist boat with his brother, make Clara hopeful about the future. The suspense rises like the tide while readers applaud the teen's healthy new life and relationships but fear that she hasn't seen the last of the unstable and unpredictable Christian. Characters and new love ring true and would make this fine chick lit in and of itself, but the looming specter of the ex-boyfriend finding Clara makes it a novel with an appealing edge. Fear tinges this summer romance and underscores the issue of abusive and claustrophobic relationships among teens.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
Publishers Weekly
To escape her obsessive ex-boyfriend, Clara and her single father spend the summer in a rented house in a small beach community called Bishop Rock. In alternating chapters, she recounts her increasingly frightening relationship with controlling Christian, as well as her attempts to recover, now that “no one back home knew where I was.” In this gripping, layered novel, Clara is stalked, first by cell phone and later in person, by Christian. Clara is also haunted by her own feelings of culpability: “The thing is, it can feel good to make someone lose all control.” She is not the only one with ghosts: the legends of Bishop Rock are full of them, and many people around her have chilling stories, including her father, a “smart-ass” writer hiding a big family secret. Clara’s unease mounts as she grapples with her emotions surrounding the past and the impending threat of Christian’s arrival. Fear has made Clara a fiercely good observer of detail, and Caletti’s powerfully descriptive prose serves her character well, as she provides insight into ideas about love, power, and who we forgive. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"I LOVED it. Stay is masterfully written and so powerfully honest, it is just an absolutely brilliant read....
I wish I could go back in time and hand this book to my teenage self, it was the kind of book I needed and one I think all teenage girls should read.... The writing is beautiful and full of raw emotion.... The characters are exceptional. Clara is definitely one of the most realistic characters I have read in a while.... Overall, this book is amazing. I highly recommend Stay to all fans of contemporary fiction. Definitely a favourite read for 2011." —Nic at

"The way [Caletti] describes things - the characters, settings, the small details - is simply breathtaking. The author has such a talent with words that everything becomes so vivid and alive in front of your eyes.
The plot is gripping! The tension builds up chapter after chapter. As the story progresses, we get to know more of Clara's history with Christian. The characterization is excellent! The author makes you really feel for Clara. I felt her pain, her happiness, her fear and confusion. I could feel her turmoil like it was mine.
One of the best YA contemporary novels I have read.
I read Stay in a day and it was worth it. I believe it's an important book for older and younger readers alike. Stay is dark, moving and hard-hitting."
—Misha @

"Caletti’s prose is at its best. Perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen’s books, this is a moving tale of a
young woman learning how to love, to live, and to forgive."

"My heart was pounding through several chapters... Stay is an emotional masterpiece. It ended up being even better than expected, and is a must read."
—Shanyn @

"Ms. Caletti's writing was gorgeous. There were so many unique and beautiful observations... The way Ms. Caletti was able to push through the norm and dive for something beautiful underneath the current was incredible. Stay is gripping—one part beauty, one part obsession... it's absolutely a novel to check out."
—Amber @ Down the Rabbit Hole (

"This is the best book I have read. Never have I felt more a part of a story, never have I been so involved, so unsure of the outcome, so tentative as Clara moved ahead with her/my life. I wouldn't have Deb Caletti change even one word in this novel. It isn't entertaining. It's more than realistic. It's real."
—Heather @

"The heavens must have opened and sung a beautiful song while Deb Caletti wrote Stay, because this book straight up gets it. 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."
—April @

"Taking an honest look at the dangers of obsession and stalking, Caletti writes a beautiful story that somehow remains hopeful even when the plot takes a sinister twist. Through the story, all characters come to life and become understandable, if not likable. Recommend this book to every teen and parent. This is a danger often overlooked until it is too late because of its subtlety, and the guilt and shame involved."—VOYA

Kirkus Reviews
A dissection of an unhealthy, obsessive relationship as seen in its aftermath. Clara catches Christian's eye from across a crowded gymnasium, and they quickly become an exclusive couple. However, Clara soon realizes that exclusivity can have its downsides, as Christian's devotion takes a frightening turn and he begins stalking Clara. To protect his daughter and to give her "a place to breathe for a while," Clara's father whisks her away to a sleepy coastal town without notifying anyone of their new location. Through chapters that alternate between Clara's present life at the beach and her rocky relationship with Christian, readers bear witness to Clara's attempts to confront her fear and grow. Adding layers of depth to this text and its characters are several auxiliary relationships, including a dynamic bond between Clara and her father, that all with time are seamlessly woven together. Quirky footnotes are sprinkled throughout attempting to inject humor and tidbits of background to illuminate Clara's past; however, they are often disruptive and easily skipped. Despite salty language, sex and violence are not graphically depicted, making this a safe read for younger teens. While her story's not particularly new, Calletti knows her audience and tells it well. (Fiction. 12-15)

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Product Details

Simon Pulse
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Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

First off, I’ve never told this story to anyone. Not the entire thing anyway, and not entirely truthfully. I’m only telling it now for one reason, and that’s because an untold story has a weight that can submerge you, sure as a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean. I learned that. This kind of story, those kind of things kept secret—they have the power to keep you hidden forever, and most of all from yourself. The ghosts from that drowned ship, they keep haunting.

So here is the story. Sit back and make yourself comfortable and all that.

I met him at a basketball game.

Wait. You should also know that another friend of mine, Annie Willows, had asked me to go with her and her friends to El Corazon that night to hear some band and that I didn’t go. If I had gone, all this might never have happened. The way two people can end up in the same place, find each other in a crowd, and change their lives and the lives of the people around them forever . . . It makes you believe in fate. And fate gives love some extra authority. Like it’s been stamped with approval from above, if you believe in above. A godly green light. Some destined significance.


My school was playing his, and I was there with my friend Shakti, who was watching her boyfriend Luke, number sixteen, who was at that moment sitting on the bench and drumming his fingers on his knee like he did when he was nervous. Inside the gym there was that fast, high energy crackle of competition and screaming fans and the squeak of tennis shoes stopping and starting on shiny floors.

He was with another girl; that was one thing. I was aware of her only vaguely as she moved away from him. She maneuvered sideways through the crowd, purse over her shoulder, heading to the bathroom, maybe. His eyes followed her and then landed on me, and by the time she came back, it was over for her, though she didn’t know it. That sounds terrible, and I still feel bad about it. But something had already been set in motion, and I wonder and wonder how things would have been if I’d have just let that moment pass, the one where our eyes met. If I had just taken Shakti’s arm and moved off, letting the electrical jolt that passed between us fade off, letting the girl return to his side, letting fate head off in another direction entirely, where he would have kept his eyes fixed on the girl with the purse or on another girl entirely.

My father, Bobby Oates*, said that love at first sight should send you running, if you know what’s good for you. It’s your dark pieces having instant recognition with their dark pieces, he says. You’re an idiot if you think it means you’ve met your soul mate. So I was an idiot. He looked so nice. He was nice. After Dylan Ricks, I was looking for nice. Dylan Ricks once held my arm behind my back and then twisted so hard that I heard something pop.

“Thirsty!” I yelled to Shakti, and she nodded. I moved away from her, followed the line of his eyes until I was standing next to him. I wish you knew me, because you’d appreciate what this meant. I would never just go walking up to some guy. I would never ignore the fact that his girlfriend was right then in the bathroom putting on new lip gloss. Never. I was nice and my friends were nice, which meant we lacked the selfish, sadistic overconfidence of popularity. But I didn’t care about that girl right then. It’s awful, and I’m sorry, but it was true. I kind of even hated me for it, but it was like I had to do what I was going to do. I can’t explain it. I wish I could. He was very tall and broad shouldered, white-blond hair swooped over his forehead, good-looking, oh, yeah, with those impossible, perfectly designed Scandinavian features. Still, it wasn’t just his looks. It was some pull. The ball hit hard against the backboard, which shuddered and clattered. The ref’s whistle shrieked and the crowd yelled its cheers and protests.

I held my hands up near my ears. “Loud,” I said to him.

He leaned in close. His voice surprised me. He had this accent. It was lush and curled, with the kind of lilt and richness that made you instantly think of distant cities and faraway lands—the kind of city you’d see in a foreign film, with a snow-banked river winding through its center, stone bridges crossing to an ornate church. Ice castles and a royal family and coats lined with fur. The other guys in that gym—they watched ESPN and slunked in suburban living rooms and slammed the doors of their mothers’ minivans. See—I had already made him into someone he would never be, and I didn’t know it then, but he was already doing the same with me, too.

“I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” he said. “I actually hate sports.”

I laughed. “How many people here are secretly wishing they were somewhere else?”

He looked around. Shook his head. “Just us.”

I was wishing that, all right. I was wishing we were both somewhere else. A somewhere together. A warm heat was starting at my knees, working its way up. “I’ve got to . . .” I gestured toward Shakti.

“Right,” he said.

I made my way back to Shakti, who was standing on her toes at the sidelines, trying to see Luke, who had been called in to the game and who was now dribbling the ball down the court in his shiny gold shorts. “He’s in,” she said. “Oh, please, God, let him not do what he did last time.”

But I was too distracted to actually watch and see if Luke would accidentally pass the ball to an opposing teammate as he had during the last game. My focus had shifted, my whole focus—one moment he wasn’t there and then he was, and my mind and body were buzzing with awareness and hope and uncertainty. You have ordinary moments and ordinary moments and more ordinary moments, and then, suddenly, there is something monumental right there. You have past and future colliding in the present, your own personal Big Bang, and nothing will ever be the same.

That was the point, there, then, when I should have shaken it off and gone on. I see it like an actual road in my mind, forking off. I should have kept my eyes on Luke with his sky-length legs and skinny chest; I should have cheered when he passed that ball just as he should have, to number twenty-four, who shot a clean basket. I should have stayed in that moment and moved on from that moment, when Shakti grabbed my arm and squeezed. Instead, I watched him as he headed through the crowd, and he looked back at me and our eyes met again before he disappeared.

It was already too late. Basically, two springs and two summers and the sea and the haunting had all already happened.

* It sounds familiar because you have heard of him. Crime writer, or, as the critics say, “contemporary noir.” Her Emerald Eyes, among others. Yeah, you saw the movie, too.

© 2011 Deb Caletti

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