Title: And We Stay
Author: Jenny Hubbard
2014 – YA – Realistic Fiction
The Story: Everything changes after Paul walks into the school library, threatens his girlfriend Emily with a gun, and then takes his own life. To recuperate, Emily is sent to the Amherst School for Girls, where a developing love of poetry helps her cope and her new friends help her open up about her story.
The Opening Line: There are rumors the day Emily Beam arrives at the Amherst School for Girls – in January, halfway through her junior year.
Thoughts: This novel absolutely shattered me. If I had to choose one word to describe the overall tone of the novel, I would have to choose “melancholy”. Which is absolutely fitting, as Emily seeks out the poetry of Emily Dickinson as she strives to cope with the poems inside her that demand to be written. She sees in Dickinson a kindred soul, lonely and reclusive and ripe with talent and words.
I also see healing and hope as major themes in the novel. Hubbard isn’t afraid to address some big questions. How can we pick up the pieces after our lives are shattered? How do we cope with guilt and anger and fear? And most importantly, how do we move forward? The book is rife with bad decisions and worse consequences, but it’s raw in its authenticity and pain. As Emily begins to reshape her life, it’s like a drink of cool water to quench a powerful thirst. That’s really one of the only ways I can describe this story.
Although this novel is set in a boarding school, maybe my favorite setting, this isn’t your typical boarding school novel. Emily is here to escape. To find solace. To be reborn. There’s no flash or dazzle here – And We Stay is a quiet, thoughtful work of art that longs to be read.