Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Verse, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.
This is how they will go.
This is how she will go: on.
The light almost speaking,
and March halfway gone,
the green fields beyond,
and the staying.
Jenny Hubbard is a fantastic writer. I’ll give her that. She can form sentences out of nowhere and still make it sound poetic and beautiful and grand. The poems that are inserted here and there are just another example of her talent. I really wanted to love And We Stay because of that. The prose and verse–I don’t think I’ve read something as magnificent.
Unfortunately, And We Stay, no matter the brilliant writing, I could not like. Here is a list of reasons why.
– Número uno: the point of view and tense just did not click with the novel. It is written in third person, present. I’ve never been a fan of third person narration, it is difficult to make me connect to the characters and nearly always is the author going to be telling and not showing. And We Stay is not an exception. This book was predominantly weighed down because of the narration (even though the prose was achingly gorgeous). The tense made this book feel off. I’m not utterly sure how to describe what I mean, but it just did not sit well with And We Stay. Perhaps it would have been better with past tense? Just a suggestion.
– I couldn’t care less about any of the characters. This pretty much links up with my previous point. Due to the narration, I was completely detached from the characters. We don’t really get to go inside the main character’s head much, either. I do like the Emily Beam’s story line, but it’s awful hard to feel for her and comprehend her emotions if they are barely shown. Moreover, I wanted to know more about Paul–the ex-boyfriend. I think I was meant to feel sorry for him, but if you ask me to give my opinion on him, I could not say anything good or bad. He was just there. A bland character.
– The pacing felt slow. And We Stay is a relatively short novel. 240 pages. Yet I still felt myself wanting to rush through it because it was like everything in slow motion. I get that this book is a novel about recovery and moving on. I get that it takes a long time. I think I just wanted something else to go on along–a sub-plot. Anything to make me feel more attentive.
I know I am the black sheep here, and I tried so hard to enjoy this. I recommend this to anyone who is a fan of poetry (or Emily Dickinson).
~Thank you Delacorte Press for sending me this copy!~
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