Book Review: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

17797364Title: And We Stay
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: 3 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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 had trouble getting through And We Stay. On the one hand you have the beautiful, poetic writing style, which shows how talented the author is. There are tons of verses spread throughout the book, and they’re all equally powerful and engaging. However, the writing was also one of the main problems why I couldn’t connect with the main character. Due to the poetic style, that doesn’t seem to fit an ordinary teenager, the main character and writing feel like they’re miles apart, and the reader is detached from the story. Add in the tense – third person, present time – which is an odd combination either way, and you end up with a book that’s beautifully written, but whose characters didn’t connect with me the way they should.

The story centers around Emily, who moves to another school after her ex-boyfriend threatened her with a gun in the library of her old school, and then committed suicide. Emily tries to come to terms with what happened, and her own guilt. She makes new friends, finds a deeper connection to Emily Dickinson, and poetry. I loved the plot, especially the plot that concerned Emily Dickinson and the current Emily, Emily Beam’s, connection to her. The poems and verses were great too. But a story like this, is very personal. We need to get personal with the main character, and unfortunately, that never happens. We’re kept in the dark as to the main character’s thoughts and emotions. We have no idea what Emil thinks, or why. We see her sadness only reflected from the outside, never from within.

Ultimately, this book was a  mediocre read. The writing was gorgeous, amazing. But I couldn’t connect to the characters, or feel their pain, which is an absolute must for a book that is mostly about pain, and how to get over grief.

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