And We Stay
By Jenny Hubbard
My Rating: 4 Stars
I received an ARC of this book from Random House Children’s via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
“And We Stay” is the story of seventeen year old Emily Beam who has been sent to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts by her parents in the wake of a tragedy at her old high school where her boyfriend Paul Wagoner walks into their school library, threatens Emily and then tragically kills himself. Emily, who is full of grief and guilt over Paul’s tragic death, must try to find a way to move on despite the events of that day. At boarding school, Emily meets two quirky girls who have their own issues, but with their help and the support of one teacher, Emily discovers that there is good in the world, even when bad things happen, that there is hope, even in the face of such loss, and that life goes on even after there is death. Because in the end, when we lose the ones we love, we stay behind and are expected to continue on without them even if that seems impossible.
This is a heart wrenching story of a girl who survives such great tragedy but is left with many questions and very few answers. She feels abandoned in so many ways and broken to the core. Jenny Hubbard uses prose and verse to tell this tragic story. Alternating between the present and the past the reader comes to know Emily and Paul through their interactions during the 4 month relationship that will irreversibly change them in ways they could have never imagined and ultimately the “new” Emily that has surfaced in the wake of her tragedy.
I loved this book. I felt that Hubbard did a excellent job of integrating the verse into the storyline. There was meaning behind the verse and a clear need for it. So often, verse in a typically prose genre can be pithy and useless, but not in this book. This book reminded me of Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay.” Readers of “If I Stay” will connect with this book on the same level they did with Forman’s novel. The writing in this book is excellent and the characters are well developed. I love how Emily Dickinson and her poems almost seem like their own character. Hubbard weaves a complicated tale that is sure to touch the hearts of readers. I’m interested in reading more of Jenny Hubbard’s work.