Monday, December 3, 2012


Deb Caletti
ISBN: 978-1442403734
Simon Pulse, 2011

Plot Summary: In alternating chapters of the present and the past (both told in present tense though), readers learn of how Clara’s relationship with Christian—the hot Dutch boy from a neighboring school—went from all sweet and turned into a living nightmare. Such a living nightmare that Clara and her father actually had to go on the run to escape from. In a new seaside town in Washington, Clara tries to spend her first summer after senior year recuperating from the horror she was living and all that she’s lost—home, friends, etc. She soon meets an old friend of her father’s, a sad and lonely lighthouse keeper, who seems to know secrets about her dead mother and starts something with her father. She also meets Finn, a nice guy who conducts boat tours of the surrounding area. Through flashbacks, Clara tells readers how the relationship with Christian turned sour—his violent jealousy, how she had to lie and hide things, and eventually how she tried to end things with him. Unfortunately, he won’t let things go and he’s about to find her again.

Critical Evaluation: This is the first abusive boyfriend book that had some really interesting elements that sets it apart from others in its themes. Clara’s only previous relationship was with a boy named Dylan, another boy who actually was abusive (setting up a character trait for Clara to be potentially weak-willed in her relationships). However, the most surprising thing about this book and Clara’s relationship with Christian is that it was the first book to feature an abusive relationship that was not physically abusive. All of the abuse came in forms of mental and emotional means. Christian was the very possessive and clingy type of abusive boyfriend. Once again, sadly, we have the whole “abusive girl jumps right into another relationship” angle. Caletti’s writing style is more literary than most which might turn off some readers while engaging others. She uses footnotes to add some humor to the serious story. The pace is quickly until the two narratives—past and present—finally catch up to each other. There are also a number of extra stories sprinkled throughout to engage readers—the lighthouse keeper lost a child, Finn’s father is dead and he has to help raise a large family, and the troubled past between Clara’s dad and mom.  

Reader's Annotation:  Clara is starting over anew in an effort to escape her possessive ex-boyfriend. But can she keep running forever?

Author Information: Deb Caletti is an award-winning author and a National Book Award finalist whose books are published and translated worldwide. Her first novel was The Queen of Everything. It is currently in its thirteenth printing. Deb’s second book, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her third book, Wild Roses, won acclaim with starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly. Her fourth book, The Nature of Jade, was a summer 2007 Booksense pick. She has also written The Fortunes of Indigo Skye, The Secret Life of Prince Charming, The Six Rules of Maybe, Stay, and The Story of Us. Deb grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and earned her journalism degree from the University of Washington in Seattle. When Deb is not writing books or reading them, she is a painter and a lyricist, and speaks widely to audiences on writing and life as an author. Deb lives with her family in Seattle (Caletti, n.d.).

Genre: Realistic

Curriculum Ties: Since no actual physical abuse occurs in the novel it might be a more appropriate choice for classroom readings on abusive relationships, especially to show teens that abuse doesn’t always come in the form of physical violence.

Booktalking Ideas:  The rush to go into hiding, being terrified that she will be found

Reading Level/Interest Age:  15+

Challenge Issues: Abusive relationships

Challenge Defense:  If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion:  Another excellent realistic fiction author. If she seems popular, I’d recommend other books by her for the collection. Her writing is very literary compared to some other YA authors and she covers a lot of different topics in her novels.


Caletti, D. (n.d.). About the author: Brief. Retrieved from

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