Title: And We Stay
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Published: January 28th 2014
Date Read: February 17th 2014
When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend Emily Beam, then takes his own life. In the wake of the tragedy, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is shipped off to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she encounters a ghostly presence who shares her name. The spirit of Emily Dickinson and two quirky girls offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily to heal her own damaged self.
This inventive story, told in verse and in prose, paints the aftermath of tragedy as a landscape where there is good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.
I’m actually sitting in front of the computer for around five minutes now and I still don’t know how to start writing a review for this book. Softening the blow, Jenny Hubbard’s writing for this book was pretty good and this book will surely have a great appeal to poetry and prose fans out there but its another case of “its not you, its me” for me. Connecting with the story and the character has been a struggle.
“Emily Beam’s boyfriend threatened her with a gun on their school library and then shot himself. It changes everything.”
Emily Beam was confused, haunted and empty yet she has this gentle and strength within her. She’s a budding poet and after what happened with Paul she was starting over at a boarding school far from home. She’s an okay character however connecting with her is really a struggle for me. She’s aloof, detached and just bland. It feels like she doesn’t make an effort throughout the story and just kept things on herself.
I have mentioned that our protagonist is a budding poet and it’s a huge surprise that she also ends up at the same hometown of the famous poet Emily Dickinson. The addition of the famous poet to the story was okay however when the magical and mysterious feel to it adds up – uhm – I find myself asking if that really is necessary. I didn’t get that whole addition.
What leads to Paul Wagoner’s death?
What did Emily Beam do that pushed him to do such thing and end their story that way?
These are the question on the forefront of my mind while reading this story. In a way, these questions are answered but I find myself looking for more justification. Thinking about Paul, I think it would’ve been nice also knowing him. Yes, there is a reason why he killed himself but I don’t know if that thing could bring him to the point of committing suicide. Maybe seeing his life or at least being introduced to his life could give us a hint on what really brought him on that point. Does he carry any other problems? Is it really his intention to kill himself? Or was it just to scare Emily?
The story was written on a Third Person perspective and I know I’m not the only one who is struggling in reading stories on this perspective. I have read several reviews telling that this might be the problem with the story making it feel detached. I’m actually a “clingy” reader so connection with the story and the characters is a huge part for me. Oh and the way the voice keeps calling Emily as “Emily Beam” is just downright disturbing for me.
In all, And We Stay is an okay story. Unfortunately, it didn’t do fireworks and magic for me but I do commend the author for her beautiful words and poems that adds a huge impact to this deep and mysterious story. Every words of each poem, the description of the characters’ pains and conflicts are breathtaking and are straight to the heart. If you’re into poetry and prose you will surely like this one and maybe you can connect more with Emily Beam.
*ARC kindly provided by Delacorte Press thru Netgalley*