Stay by Deb Caletti

Stay by Deb Caletti
Published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Clara met and quickly fell in love with Christian, and their relationship was intense, crazy, fun – like nothing she’d ever experienced. But fun and intense turned fast into terrifying and intense, and Clara began to imagine the lengths Christian might go to make her stay with him. Now Clara and her father have moved to a new town, and nobody knows where they are, but Clara still can’t relax. She knows the depths of Christian’s obsession with her, and she can’t let go of the feeling that he won’t stop until he has her back with him again – whatever it takes.

To say that Stay hit close to home for me would be a massive understatement. In fact, it hit so close to home that I don’t think I’m capable of writing a proper review. You see, years ago, I was in a relationship with an emotionally abusive, manipulative, and controlling person. He hurt me and broke my spirit in more ways than I can count or begin to explain. It’s been more than five years since I’ve spoken to this person, but the ways in which he destroyed my self-esteem, belief in myself, and my soul still have a profound affect on me to this day. Sometimes I feel bad for my husband because I need a little more TLC than most people probably do in average situations because this relationship messed with my head to such a large degree.

This is to say that I get how terrifying and paralyzing these relationships can be, and I am here to tell you that Deb Caletti got it right in this book. She got it so right that I found myself reliving moments from my past – moments I wish I could forget but I know I never will – as I was reading Clara tell her own story. The way I felt about Clara goes beyond empathy – truth be told, I was her at one point in my life. I know firsthand how this type of relationship can destroy one’s soul, how it can make a person question every single decision, every step, every action and wonder how the other person will react. This type of relationship made a person like me, a reasonably intelligent, decent-looking, and extremely rational girl believe that she is nothing. And Caletti made this come to life with Clara and Christian. It was difficult for me to read, yes, but almost cathartic in a way. Because it made me remember that this happens to girls (and guys, too) all the time. That there are manipulative, emotionally abusive people out there just waiting for a person to abuse, and it was not my fault that this happened to me. And if you ever find yourself in a situation like Clara, or ever have in the past, it is not your fault either. Emotional abuse is still abuse, and it can hurt just as much if not more than being hit.

Anyway, like I said, I clearly don’t have the ability to properly review Stay but what I will say is that I suggest you read it. These manipulative and abusive relationships are probably more common than we’d like to think and Caletti did an amazing job bringing such a terrifying situation to light. Although it wasn’t easy for me to read this book, I’m so glad I did and I cannot more highly recommend it.


21 thoughts on “Stay by Deb Caletti”

  1. *hugs* I’m so sorry you experienced that Heather. This was a strong and brave post, and it sounds like this is an excellent book. Good on you for knowing it wasn’t your fault!

    1. Thank you, Eva. I feel like the more time and distance I get from this experience the easier it is to talk about and reflect upon. Which is a good thing!

  2. Heather, I can totally relate as I was once in a situation similar to this. It is hard to think about now that I am past it, and I thank God for my husband who took me away from all that. I can imagine that this would be a really hard book to read and to digest fully. It probably brings a lot of issues to light that you hadn’t thought of in a long time, and though it would probably be difficult, it might be something that I would be interested in reading. This was a very courageous review for you to have written, and I admire you for it.

    1. Heather, my heart goes out to you for what you experienced as well. As difficult as it is to think about and discuss, I wanted to make sure people are aware of this novel because emotional abuse and manipulation by one’s partner happens way more often than society likes to think about/talk about. It may or may not include physical violence, but this type of violence is horrific too and just as difficult to recover from, if you ask me.

  3. Obviously you, Heather and I need to have a drink and toast to the fact that we all got out of our abusive relationships. Mine was horrid, and I was reduced to someone who had absolutely no self-esteem. Praise God I had the sense to (eventually) walk away. I’m sure this book would absolutely terrify me, but probably would be cathartic as well. Sending a hug your way!

    1. HA! For sure, let’s do that. Seriously, though Sandy, I am so sorry for what you had to go through in your relationship. I am so with you on the no self-esteem thing – it’s something I have to literally work on every single day. I have to remind myself not to talk down to myself and to believe in what I know I am capable of. All this because of one a**hole who I was in a 1-year relationship with! UGH! Hugs to you too.

  4. Thanks for being so open. I am so glad to hear that you were strong enough to get away and to find the right person for you.

  5. *sigh* I know exactly what you mean…about books hitting to close to home. I’m glad that you shared how much this book affected you. Always remember that you are the stronger party because you LEFT. You got away. The creep has no power over you anymore. (And I’m sure you also know by now that his insecurities and self-hatred was so intense his hate for himself had to be externalized, unfortunately, onto you.)

    The fact that you were able to open up to love again and marry your husband shows how strong you are. *hugs* Heather.

    1. Oh I absolutely understand, thank you for saying so! I am a stronger person now, although I was a strong person then so sometimes I wonder why/how I even got myself involved with him in the first place. Oh well. What is important is that I learned from it, and yes I have to work on healing even now, but I am learning more and healing more each day. So this is what matters.

  6. Thank you for sharing how this book affected you. I’m sure it must have been difficult for you to read. This sounds like an important, emotional book. I”m making note of it.

  7. Heather, I had no idea of what happened to you. You clearly are giving a voice to other girls to speak up for themselves and recognize abuse so that they can escape it. You deserve good things in your life andI am happy that you are in a good place now. Christine

  8. I’ve had my eye on this book for awhile. Thanks for reminding me that I need to pick it up, and thank you for sharing your own personal story; I think you are every bit qualified to review this book, and it becomes that much more important to me, as a reader of your blog, that you feel the book is authentic in every way. A hug to you from me.

  9. I’m sorry you had that experience, Heather, and it’s wonderful that you’re able to talk about it so openly now — I’m always inclined to keep things to myself forever, which is not a good strategy for healing. *hug*

    In less serious news, when I started reading this review, I thought it said she fell in love with A Christian, and then I read the whole first paragraph as if it said “the Christian” and I couldn’t figure out why you weren’t just calling him by his name, and I thought, oh, maybe that’s a device the book uses… And then I figured out what was really happening and felt silly.

    1. Thank you Jenny. I don’t talk about this stuff much either – I find it much easier to write about it rather than talk, especially to people I love and care about. For example – the commenter two above (Christine) is my maternal aunt, a person I consider myself pretty close to, and she didn’t know about this until this post. It’s just so much easier to not talk about but writing about this stuff comes much more naturally to me.

      Also – that’s hilarious about “the Christian”. LOL. I do that sometimes too – my brain travels faster than my eyes can actually read the words sometimes!

  10. I’ve been wanting to read this one. I think it’s an important thing to know about and understand more of. Thank you for sharing your story!

  11. Thank you for really explaining how this book touched you and showing the real side to those types of relationships…’s brave to share that part of your life! I love Caletti and will be reading this one for sure.

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