Friday, June 13, 2014

Review: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Title: And We Stay
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Year Published: 2014

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 221
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map): USA (Massachusetts)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):  Senior Paul Wagoner walks into his high school library with a stolen gun, threatens his girlfriend, Emily Beam, and then takes his own life. In the wake of the trauma, an angry and guilt-ridden Emily is sen to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts. Two quirky fellow students and the spirit of Emily Dickinson offer helping hands, but it is up to Emily Beam to heal her own damaged self.

Review: I will confess that I am not a poetry fan and don't know much about Emily Dickinson, but the poetry in this book (written by the main character, Emily Beam) is really good, moving, and propels the story along well. Emily's poems appear about one per chapter and spell out her experiences with her boyfriend, his suicide in their high school library (why is it always the library?!), and her life afterward. We also experience Emily's anguish, turmoil, and other emotions of living "post" traumatic event.

Emily is a complicated character, but the author does a good job of showing us the impact of a friend's suicide, a public trauma, and dealing with personal issues (I can't go into this more without giving away a major part of the story). This story could have been written in a dramatic fashion, but it is a quiet read. In fact, the shooting is but a small part of the real story--Emily Beam figuring out who she is and what she wants out of life. How do you trust people again, make friends, and find your own way in the world?

For me, this book was timely given the shooting spree in Santa Barbara (Isla Vista) that happened a couple weeks ago over Memorial Day weekend, a friend's suicide last month, and the raging debates over gun laws. 

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