Book Review : And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

January 29, 2014 Book review 10 ★★★

Remember 3 stars is a good review!  It means I liked it.  Don’t think meh just because it hasn’t got a higher rating; it was one I enjoyed for its unique blend of prose and poetry and its darker than dark tone.

Book Review : And We Stay by Jenny HubbardAnd We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Published by Random House LLC on 28 Jan 2014
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon

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.

First Line of And We Stay:

“There are rumours the day Emily Beam arrives at the Amherst School for Girls – in January, halfway through her junior year.”

My thoughts on And We Stay:

I started off loving it and had high hopes that it would be a special snowflake of a book.  However somewhere along the way, it fell down in my estimation.  But it didn’t fall too far, it is still a book that I really enjoyed and one I’m glad I took the time to read.

The main character, Emily, has a raw honesty about her but she pushes her pain deep within her.  If you read the synopsis, you see that her boyfriend has shot himself but the story is more complex than that.  My heart fell when I realised the full extent of what she is going through and I get why life is so tough for her right now.

I also empathised with how she dealt with pain.  As it’s a way I use too…distraction.  Keep busy enough and the pain hasn’t time to filter through, well for a while anyway.  And just like Emily, I too write poetry.  I don’t ever show them to anyone and as I only write when I’m struggling to cope with something, they are all dark and dreadful!  But when writing, you get lost in the moment and trying to find just the right words and rhythm is a great way of escaping for a little bit.  So I really get our mc and think she is relatable and realistic.

And I love poetry BUT it got too much.  There was too much distraction.  Less would have been more.  I loved the first few but later in the book I was skimming them, I just wanted to get on with the story.  I loved the friendships that very, very slowly built up and I loved the way that Emily slowly started to come to terms with all the happenings.  The two steps forward, one step back tone felt just right.

And it felt refreshing that there was no romance.  Well there were flashbacks to her time with Paul but knowing how that all ended kills the romance vibes there!  This is just the story of a girl coping and not using other people as crutches to help her through.  She walks the line all by herself and I loved the empowering message behind that.

Overall this a book that is as far from light and breezy as you can get but it is compellingly unique.  When you want to try something a little different, keep this one in mind.


Rating Report
Did I feel it?
Overall: three-stars


Who should read And We Stay? Recommended to those who enjoy the darker side of contemporary books, those who like poetry especially if you like Emily Dickinson and also to anyone who just wants a YA contemporary book that isn’t ‘samey’.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.


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10 Responses to “Book Review : And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard”

  1. Ana @ Read Me Away

    I have a soft spot for books that deal with hard issues like grief. I understand her way of dealing with pain because, like you, I try to keep busy. The more I do, the less I feel. Although that usually has some bad results because I keep it bottled up too long. Unlike you and Emily, I don’t write poetry for it. I have very little poetry skills, haha!

    This sounds like an interesting book, and I’ll keep my eyes out for it. 🙂 Great review, Trish!
    Ana @ Read Me Away recently posted…Talk To Me 05: The Book Hangover effect

    • trish

      Believe me Ana, I have very little poetry skills too! There is a reason I don’t ever show them to anybody! I’d love to see what you think of think of this book if you get to it.

    • trish

      I know! I really would hate for anyone to write this book off just because I ‘only’ gave it 3 stars as it really does have something unique to offer.

    • trish

      It is heartbreaking but that wasn’t the main vibe of the book. It was more the dark, intense depression that hit the mc afterwards that gave the book it’s main feel. And that part was so well done.

    • trish

      I’d love to see what you think of it. I started off adoring it but then it dropped down to like. Still a book well worth reading though.

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