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I’m Your Biggest Fan, I’ll Follow You Until You Love Me

A review of Stay by Deb Caletti, in which a Pacific-Northwestern girl gets over a jealous control freak (take notes, Bella Swan!).

I’m Your Biggest Fan, I’ll Follow You Until You Love Me

BOOK REPORT for Stay by Deb Caletti

Cover Story: Brown Bag It
BFF Charm: Yes
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Parenthetical
Bonus Factors: Pacific Northwest, Footnotes, Loyal Pets
Relationship Status: Successful Match.com Date

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

Yep, it's another faceless white girl, standin' all emo in the water, and a tagline that doesn't QUITE make sense -- "Some secrets are strong enough to pull you under" -- because Clara's ex isn't really a secret.

The Deal:

Clara's ex-bf Christian seemed like the perfect guy at first -- gorgeous, nice and made Clara feel like the hottest girl ever. But it wasn't long before she realized he was a jealous control freak, and she was constantly doing damage control to keep him from sulking and being a big fat bitch baby. She finally had enough and dumped him, but Christian just couldn't let go. Now Clara and her dad are spending the summer hiding out in a small town on Washington's Olympic coast, and it seems like she should finally be able to breathe again, but she's having as hard a time letting go of her memories and fears as Christian has letting go of her. That's right - it's the anti-Twilight, complete with good writing and a total absence of vampires. (Oh, not to mention her famous crime writer dad has some freaky problem with the ocean, his old mentor/professor/maybe lover happens to live in a shack on the beach in their new town and knows secrets about him and Clara's dead mom, so there's that.)

BFF Charm: Yay!

Maybe it's growing up as an only child with a wordsmith single dad, but Clara has a more grown-up voice than a lot of protags. The Juno haters will probably say she's unrealistic, but I don't care -- she cracked me up.

"Your phone's been ringing in your purse," he said. "I keep hoping your wallet will answer."

"Ha," I said. "My wallet's the strong silent type. Hasn't spoken to anyone in years."

I'd probably be an annoying BFF, though, because I'd want to barge in on the little games she and her dad play, like trying to figure out (without googling) what the owner of the house they're renting does for a living.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

This is a tough one. The book alternates between Clara's present, in hiding at the beach, and her memories of Christian in Seattle. The problem is Christian IS kinda swoony -- AT FIRST. Hot, nice, totally focused on her, fun, has a dead sexy European accent (he's Danish). You can totally see how Clara gets sucked in, and how at 16 she doesn't know how to get out. And as Clara remembers how the relationship deteriorated, in the present she's also getting to know Finn, the adorable sailor boy she meets. So on the one hand you have swoon quickly turning to stalker, and on the other you have that tentative reaching out after getting burned thing, that doesn't necessarily melt panties but has a bittersweet quality of its own (and PS -- Finn totally could melt some panties).

Talky Talk: Parenthetical

Caletti has stories within stories here, and it's hard to explain it all and keep everything straight, but she does a good job juggling it in the book. Even the way Clara talks is full of asides, like little nesting dolls. The writing style's pretty straight up, and although the characters' voices are a stretch at first, from Clara's awesomely foul-mouthed dad to her own halting too-teenage talk, it's easy to look past it and get sucked into the story. There's some serious suspense shizz here -- you can't just introduce a stalker from the past at the beginning and not expect him to show up at some point before the end.

Bonus Factor: Pacific Northwest

I love the Pacific Northwest! I haven't been there since I was 11 and visited my cousins and we went camping near Mt. Ranier and spent a week on one of the San Juan islands, but it was awesome, even though I had a broken arm and couldn't go out in the rowboat. That area's one of my dream places to live, rain be damned.

Bonus Factor: Footnotes

Like I said in the talky talk, there are stories within stories here, and Clara even speaks in footnotes. I'm a sucker for footnotes, and the only way I would like these better would be if they had those cute little superscript numbers instead of asterisks.

Bonus Factor: Loyal Pets*

Clara gets a job at a lighthouse museum, and the keeper (a gorgeous and seriously grouchy Italian woman) has Roger, an adorable little dog. And Roger's awesome, because hey, he's a dog, and dogs are awesome, but my favorite is Gulliver, the seagull who is in love with Finn's sister Cleo. Gulliver hangs out at the burger place where Cleo works and even follows her home.

*I'm gonna tell you now that no pets were harmed in this book so you don't have to worry about that AND about Christian.

Casting Call:

Emma Stone as Clara

Penn Badgley as Finn

OK, so I just watched Easy A. So what? They'd still work. Also, do you KNOW how hard it was to find a picture of Penn Badgley not looking douchey and/or stoned? So he's really kind of a terrible Finn, but I was awake with a screaming kid from midnight to 4 am, so I'm not feeling very inspired.

Relationship Status: Successful Match.com Date

I was a little wary of this book -- it sounded great from the synopsis and it WAS recommended by Amazon, but you know how those recommendations can be. Buy a copy of Jenna Jameson's book as a JOKE for someone ONCE, and you get all kinds of crazy shit come up. Plus, I'd heard Caletti's style can be a bit off-putting. But I was definitely surprised and pleased by how much I really liked the book, and I'm totally into going out with it again.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.