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….
I have to mention a few things before I move on to the review though. Sorry.
For a long time I held on to this misconception that contemporary fiction was too serious to be any fun to read. I craved escape into fantasy worlds that didn’t exist, couldn’t exist, unless you were viewing them in your mind. Vampires, yeah, they were (maybe still are?) my preferred poison for escape. Eternal beauty has its draw.
But so do odd things like eternal grief, sorrow, longing… even envy. It’s all part of this pretty hate machine that is our world, something I recently reflected on after reading Linds’ post on Kafka, Fairy Tales and Writing about Loss.
Don’t know what the hell I’m talking about? Well, think about it. If your honest with yourself, you can point out a time or two in your life when you were truly happy for a friend or family member who found something or someone new to love, but you also felt a little jealous, or when they got a promotion at work and all at once you didn’t know whether to congratulate them or mope about the unfairness of it because hey, you work just as hard if not harder and are more deserving. And, as Linds mentioned, the same can be said about something as heartbreaking as loss; you can grieve with someone for their loss, but at the same time, you can feel that your loss is greater.
Even if these thoughts are an innate part of us, an indication at we are naturally inclined towards our own survival over others or whatever, they are still the thoughts that lurk in the back of our minds, not meant to be exposed, not even meant to be common knowledge. Until it is, and then all hell breaks loose.
Stay, my first read by Deb Caletti, exposed some hidden, ugly and unfair truths with an absoluteness that hurt yet healed. The intimacy of Caletti’s simple prose charged an explosive awakening within me. You’ve had to have experienced some pretty shitty things in your life if the story of a girl who is scared of the boyfriend that loves her too much makes you thinking, even for a second, What he did wasn’t that bad. Forgive him.
To defuse the situation, I’ll refer to Shrek’s onion metaphor. Stay is like an onion. It has layers, some thicker than others. What’s on the outside isn’t always the same as what’s in the inside. But aren’t we taught, more often that not, that it’s what is on the inside that counts?
And that is how Stay wars with you, with what you thought you knew. With what you know is wrong, even if you can feel sympathy or sorrow for the wrong doer. It even wars with classification; it’s contemporary fiction that alludes to something not real, something paranormal.
For Clara, the falling in love part was perfect, as it often is when you fall in love for the first time. Christian, physically beautiful and nice, swooned her off her feet quickly. And even with the ominous vibe around him, even with the fact that I knew what was coming, I swooned a bit with her.
But, as her dad warned, nice isn’t the same as good. And all too soon, Clara realizes that she can’t keep up with the lies she tells herself or the lies she tells Christian to keep from hurting his feelings. As Clara beings to realize that she is falling out of love with him, Christian becomes more obsessed with keeping her. So, when she finally decides to end things, it is not without consequence.
As gripping as it was, there still were some parts of the story that really disappointed me. Clara was really working for me as a character. She was so brave, so strong. Then she spoiled it by having a TSTL moment (actually she had about three). You know, those moments that make you think of scary movies where you scream at the screen, Don’t go out there! Psycho with a knife is out there and you’re gonna die! I know that fear can seize you so completely that it erases rational thought, but I didn’t like seeing it happen to Clara. I also know that life doesn’t stop to give you breaks even if you already have enough to deal with on you plate, but again, when it happened to Clara, I thought it was so unfair and unnecessary.
Still, small gripes aside, Stay is an incredible story that terrifies you from the start for a lot of different reasons. It was Clara’s journey through hell and back that brought to light a life worth living. As swept away as I became with the story, I also got very mad. Sometimes with Clara, sometimes with Christian, most times with myself.
Challenge(s): 111 in ‘11 Challenge