Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

And We Stay
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.
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Publishes in US: January 28th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Contemp (some prose, but not predominant)
Source: Random via Netgalley
Series? No

Buy it: Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound Book Depository

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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. 

Bottom Line: Great contemporary, very emotional and lots of character growth.

My question to you, my lovely readers:
Did you ever want to go to boarding school?
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26 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad! *Endless hugs*

    I've been thinking of checking this out, but the fact that it's not purely prose puts me off a bit. I know the poetry isn't supposed to be in an overwhelming portion of it, but I'm still iffy because I really don't like poetry in books. I find it so distracting!

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  2. I'm not a fan of mixing poetry and prose. I happen to love both, but far away from each other.
    This sounds like a great read, but I'm truly, truly sorry that you have a personal connection to it.

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    1. That is understandable. I didn't really read the poetry much

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  3. I loved the sound of this one too when I saw it on Netgalley but I skipped requesting it because of the prose thing. Glad to see you still enjoyed it!

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  4. Oh wow, We Stay sounds pretty inventive and terrific. I love prose, so that would definitely attract my attention.
    Great review, Brandi!

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  5. I lost my mom to cancer when I was 16 and at the time I didn't know anyone else who had been through that so I'm like you and find it very cathartic reading about how characters (even though they're fictional and I'm 40-something) deal with the loss.

    I've read a few books lately that have mixed styles of writing and although it's a little disconcerting at first, I've enjoyed them overall.

    {hugs}

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    1. Loss hits hard and sometimes it is catartic to read about something similar and others like a hot poker

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  6. I just read a negative review of this so it's nice to see a positive one. I haven't lost anyone THAT close to me to suicide (though I had a friend commit suicide, so I kind of have that connection and understanding). I'm glad you ended up enjoying it.

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  7. I personally haven't dealt with a loss like this, both of my parents died of cancer. Can't imagine the pain of a loss like this. I'm glad that you found connected to the story.

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  8. I am not always a fan of poetry and prose sometimes it works and other times it is annoying. I am still curious about this one and might give it a go.

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  9. This is the second review I've seen for this book and the first one was pretty bad. They said they thought the book focused on Emily too much amongst other things. Your review made me put this book back onto my to-read list, though.

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  10. I was a bit concerned about the poetry but it sounds like the combination works for the most part in this one. I'm sorry to hear you have a personal experience with these sorts of stories. Sometimes reading about traumas we've experienced can be therapeutic, and I hope that's the case for you. Lovely review!

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    1. It was, it is helpful to see how others react even though its fictional

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  11. I'm so happy you enjoyed this one more than me. I agree the writing is great but I have some issues with this book. Great review.

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  12. I like a character-driven novel - especially one that deals with a tough subject. This sounds great. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Brandi.

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  13. I did want to go to boarding school, I read so many books about it

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  14. Nope, never wanted to go to boarding school. My cousin went to one that was in town, but she didn't board, she went back and forth every day. There were only about 12 girls that boarded there and they seemed so lonely. I guess a bigger school would be different, but it didn't seem that glamorous to me.

    Glad you could connect with this one.

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  15. I loved And We Stay. Like you, I was hesitant at first because of the verse parts. I usually hate verse but then I read and it made sense.
    I honestly felt like it helped me know Emily Beam better and it helped me emotionally as well. I could just feel Emily's emotions better than reading in the narration.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

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  16. Lovely review I received a finished copy of this and my daughter loves this poem style.

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  17. I don't think I've read a lot of good reviews for this one so I'm really happy you liked it.

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  18. Loved your heartfelt review. I have a copy of this waiting for me on my Kindle I need to tuck into.

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  19. You continue to amaze me with your strength by reading these kinds of books! I normally tend to stay away from the books that bring out my anxiety, but I think you might be onto something. By reading these stories that are somewhat similar to the things you've endured, you can surround yourself with people who understand, even if they are fictional characters. And that's great! It's wonderful when we see a bit of ourselves or our struggles in books, because it helps us feel less alone, and can help us to grieve and process the things we're going through.
    I hadn't heard of this book before, but I'm off to add it to my TBR! Great review, Brandi!

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    1. So true and right on about not feeling alone

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