And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
"In And We Stay, Jenny Hubbard treats tragedy and new beginnings with a skilled, delicate hand. Her otherworldly verse and prose form a flowing monument to all the great storytellers of the past." --John Corey Whaley, author of the Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris award winner, Where Things Come Back
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.
Publishes in US: January 28th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Contemp (some prose, but not predominant)
Source: Random via Netgalley
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I requested to read this one on Netgalley because I have always been draw to self-harm and suicide, and even though I was touched personally by suicide by gun with my dad in 2012, those key words still attract my attention and I want to read it. I don't know if its healthy, but I just feel compelled to read about others who have been through these things, and see how they heal, and move on.
When I read the synopsis, I saw a keyword that I had missed when I first requested though--the dreaded (for me) prose. I almost didn't even start this one, but I still picked it up and opened it and I am glad that I did. Most of it is done in narrative, and while I skimmed the poems, they were not primarily how the story is told. And We Stay is told in a somewhat strange to me format though, it is 3rd person, and that is not the prevalent way to tell a story in YA these days, and sometimes it distances me from the main character, but it was no so with Emily.
I of course related to her because a loved one killed himself, but also just her whole countenance and way of thinking. It wasn't overly dark to where I was depressed every time I picked it up, since it is a bit out from the big event and she is already at the boarding school. I can also totally relate how she keeps people at arm's length although mine happened even before grief and because of my anxiety, but hers is because the girls at school don't know what she went through with her boyfriend Paul, and she doesn't want them to.
The story was well paced, and it was all about the flashbacks, piecing together the relationship between Paul and Emily, and what led them to that day. We see Emily working through things in her own head and through writing poetry and trying to heal. She begins to trust others as well as reach out to people that she knew from her hometown, those who knew her and who also knew Paul, who are grieving as well.
This story is all about character development and even though there wasn't huge action scenes, there was lots of powerful and emotional things, as well as a blossoming friendship that kept me enthralled.
I enjoyed this journey with Emily and recommend to those who love a darker and emotional contemporary.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Did you ever want to go to boarding school?