- File Size: 2163 KB
- Print Length: 322 pages
- Publisher: Simon Pulse; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)
- Publication Date: April 5, 2011
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003V1WWVU
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,041,190 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
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" 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."
That first paragraph resonated with me so much that I had to dive in with my head and for once, open up that little place I allow to feel, my heart. I knew Clara from the minute she met Christian and knew exactly why she did every action she did. I'd once held the power Clara felt of having someone love her so much that they'd do anything to keep her. It's powerful and wonderful and scary to be the one that loves less. But it's all consuming and Clara learns that there is a dark side to the power and Christian. And his jealousies and walking on eggshells and having to lie about her past becomes too much. It's emotionally draining. And dangerous in a way Clara can't even imagine. She and Christian were perfect and then Christian, perfect, beautiful, foreign Christian let his insecurities begin to show and there was no forgetting. And there is accommodating and adjusting for certain things in a relationship and then there is what Clara did for Christian.
But this is not one of those stories where you can say "Oh stupid girl." and want to shake her because Clara has brought us into the story with her. We are Clara for lack of a better way to explain it. She put little asterisks in her story. Example- She lets us know her mother is dead.* Then at the bottom of the page
"*Yes this story has a dead mother. Mine. She had a sudden aneurysm when I was barely four. Died before she could even get to a hospital. Dead mother's have become a story cliche thanks to Disney movies and novel writers. All the dead mothers in books, you'd think it was a common occurrence. Even Dad's books have them. But mine was real. She was no cliche and neither am I." It's Clara's story and she's writing it not Deb Caletti. The author is not between us and Clara. She's removed herself and I kept checking the description of the book to make sure this was fiction and not Deb Caletti's real story.
Because the author removed herself from the story, I felt very close to Clara. I identified with her, understood her trying to spare Christian's feelings, trying time and time to remove the hurt. She was a nice girl. She was nice to people and breaking up with someone, well it makes her feel not nice. And she's sure that Christian's reactions are her fault, for that first giddy feeling of power. The one she can't admit to at first but then tells her Dad, her Dad the writer who seems less like a Dad and more like an adult friend that takes care of Clara. He respects her way more than any parent I've ever seen to be called a parent. Yet he is parental when necessary, he doesn't tell Clara "no" when he doesn't like Christian. But when he sees warning signs, danger, he takes action. But if Clara feels shame and can't forgive herself, her father feels even worse. This stalwart man who plays metaphor games and would rather use clues to guess who's house they are renting than google him, the one that insists on protecting his daughter has a big secret. One that changes everything for Clara. She keeps us with her throughout the novel, with her asterisks as if she's sitting beside us letting us know the secret thoughts she had while putting her story down. While unburdening her of the ghosts. More than one passage made me stop and I had to read it over and over sinking into what it really was saying, not just the words on the top layer, but the deeper meaning.
I felt so many emotions reading this novel and when I finished it, I wanted to pick it up and start again. And I will. I'll learn something new that I didn't catch the first time as I ate it up. It isn't a light read or easy. It's philosophical and deep with emotion and thought. It is definitely character driven. Clara brings us along through every emotion dragging us through the dirty self doubt and self incrimination to the final triumph of anger. Does she grow in this book? We're sitting here while she tells her story aren't we? Dad is a big character in this novel and I like the relationship he and Clara have. Does Dad grow? From a famous author to a human being, at least for Clara. There is of course Christian. And if you don't know a Christian in male or female form, then you're lucky. I have a magnet for these type of people. There are other secondary characters that bring some much needed relief to the tension in Clara's life.
If I had a rating system, stars, hearts, rabbits, hats, gold coins any of the creative things I've seen other reviewers use I'd throw all the things I had into a pot and make the biggest star, heart, rabbit, hat, gold coin and make it dance, sing, shoot fire works whatever. This is the best realistic fiction I have ever read. This is the best YA I have read. 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.
I just enjoyed this book so much! Readers will appreciate the dynamic that the main character has with her witty father. I also appreciated that the author did not make Christian an obvious and stereotypical "bad guy" in the book, because in real life there are far more Christian's than typical bad guys. Christian is damaged and that is what makes him behave the way that he does. It does not excuse his behavior, but it makes you understand the cycle and why it takes the main character so long to leave him and why she questions that decision later on.
The book also has footnotes, and not the typical kind. These footnotes are personal, and they serve as a way of insight into the deeper meanings of the prose itself through the main character's eyes.
I cannot stress how amazing this book is. Get it!
Top international reviews
"I saw it as praise, falling down now like glittering snowflakes. But it was something else. A drop of poison on that gathering snow. That moment in the fairy tale when we know what just happened but the princess doesn't."
The lyrical flow of her writing was the first thing I noticed but the story was equally as strong, it was sad, moving and often creepy too. It's about how someone can find themselves gradually led into a controlling and unhealthy relationship, especially through carefully manipulated power dynamics within the relationship. Clara makes the first move with Christian, she sees from their first few meetings that she has captivated him... and she likes the powerful feeling this gives her. But it's this level of Christian's emotion that later becomes a danger to her when he starts to be jealous of every boy she speaks to.
It works as a gripping novel but also as a cautionary tale applicable to real life situations. You might judge someone who has allowed themselves to be caught up in a controlling or abusive relationship, but this book shows how subtly circumstances can change, leading to people who thought they were in a happy, loving relationship suddenly facing a partner they no longer recognise and are inable to escape.
The feeling of being trapped and having nowhere to run makes Stay at times quite a frightening story to read. Christian, at first a charming Danish boy with pretty eyes and an accent to die for, turns into a stalker-ish did-something-just-move-outside-my-window kind of character. In my opinion, he was terrifying! But then, all of you who thought it was cute when Edward snuck into Bella's room at night might like this sort of thing (sorry, couldn't resist). I am actually thankful that a young adult novel has finally shown the creepy side of the boyfriend who is that dark shadow over there watching you.
While I'm here I'm going to be my usually awkward, picky self and point out the other small negative I found. And that was certain random side stories that didn't add anything to the overall plot. Like ghost stories and the amount of time spent on whats-her-face at the lighthouse. Yeah, that could have been cut out...
But otherwise, I really really loved this novel. If the ending had been better it would have been a full 5 star rating easily. But don't be put off: read this book!
One more quote:
"But if fate is a shape-shifter, then love is too. It can be, anyway, in its most dangerous form. It's your best day, and then your worst. It's your most hope and then your most despair. Lightness, darkness, it can swing between extremes at lightning speed - a boat upon the water on the most gorgeous day, and then the clouds crawl in and the sky turns black and the sea rages and the boat is lost."