Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Just Finished Reading ... And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

And We Stay
by Jenny Hubbard
To be published by Delacorte
on January 28, 2014

Source: Thanks to Random House for allowing me to read an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley. My full FTC disclosure is on the right sidebar.
Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads:)  In the wake of a 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.
My take:  I enjoyed Jenny Hubbard's first book, the Morris award nominated Paper Covers Rock, so I had been looking forward to reading And We Stay. Excited .... until I realized the story incorporated poems. (According to Publishers Weekly, Paper Covers Rock also contained poems, but I guess I'd blocked out that fact.)  For that reason, my excitement about the book was tempered by wariness by the time I sat down to read. In addition, I hadn't read the synopsis for a while, and based on the book's dedication, I was under a misapprehension about the nature of the tragedy that Emily suffered. (I think that my reading experience was improved by my ignorance in that regard, so I edited those details out of the synopsis above.)

But -- and I'll cut to the chase in case you're getting impatient -- by the end of this book I was very impressed. And We Stay is a beautifully told story of grief and loss, of secrets and guilt. The third person present POV did take some getting used to at first, but I quickly adjusted. By the end of the book I was even impressed by Emily Beam's poetry and the way it complemented the story.

Another thing that intrigued me was the fact that And We Stay isn't technically a contemporary book. The book takes place in the mid-1990s at a New England boarding school for girls. At times it seemed to me that the story was set in the past as a way to eliminate 21st century technology from the plot. For reasons that I won't go into, it occurred to me that various aspects of the story wouldn't have worked if Emily had a cellphone and a Facebook account. Secrets would have been spilled, people trying to avoid one another would found that exceedingly difficult, and maybe Emily Beam would have tweeted instead of writing those poems.

If you enjoy literary writing, realistic YA, and books about about loss and forgiveness and friendship, I definitely recommend And We Stay.

ETA: The book is NOT all poems. Just in case you're allergic to that kind of book, like I am. There is regular prose, and there are some poems.

26 comments:

  1. Great review Jen! This one sounds great especially the poem integration and I can't wait to pick it up. I also like the simplicity of the cover too.

    Happy Reading!
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

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  2. I kind of avoided this one because it seemed so melancholy (look at that cover!) and I'm more of a comedy girl but since it got your recommendation, I definitely want to check it out now!

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    1. It is melancholy, but also hopeful. I really liked that about it!

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  3. Great review! I'm actually in the middle of this one right now, but it's beautiful. I didn't really care for it when I started it, but once you get into it and used to the unusual writing style, it's actually very pretty and thoughtful. I'm definitely excited to finish it and see where it ends up going.

    -Kelsey @ Verbosity Book Reviews

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    1. I felt exactly the same way. At first, I really wasn't sure, but the structure really grew on me!

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  4. I want to read this book now! I didn't have an interest at first because the cover just makes me shouty. Put on a coat, you Gothic whippersnapper! But b the ghost of Emily Dickinson? poetry? Sounds like a Midnight read. ;)

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    1. LOL. The cover actually works for me because Emily is always cold and doesn't have warm enough clothes for the New England weather..

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  5. I like the sound of the mid-1990s boarding school. It sounds different and intriguing. I agree that sometimes not knowing the synopsis of a book can make for a better reading experience sometimes. I once picked up a book without looking at the synopsis and found myself pleasantly surprised by it, more so than I would have been had I known what was coming.

    Lovely review, Jen!

    Kris @Imaginary Reads

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    1. That's one reason I love the kindle. I request a book but by the time I get around to reading it, I've forgotten what it's about. And often that's a really good thing!

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  6. Thanks for this review! I was unsure whether or not to read it.

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  7. I read this a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it. The storyline was so tragic and it's really stuck with me, the only thing I didn't like was that I didn't feel I really connected to Emily and I wonder whether that's because it's told in third person and I'm so used to reading in first.

    Rosie

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    1. It was really more sad than I expected, and I'm still thinking about it...
      Emily was hard to connect to -- I sort of decided it was because what she had gone through. I guess I connected most to her through her poems. Me, the poem doubter. Go figure!!

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  8. This is one I chose not to request because I don't normally like books written through poems. I liked how you drew from how it was written just enough in the past to allow for those poems and for the plot to work. In some ways, it makes me sad that no one writes poems or letters anymore. Wonderful review!

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    1. Well, it is not all poems or I would have passed...

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  9. Hmm, I'm not sure about this one. I'm glad I know about the poem thing now, though! Novels in verse/poems aren't my favorite because they make me feel like I have to analyze every line. However, it's great that you still ended up enjoying it and I think I will give it a chance.

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    1. Definitely. And it is NOT all poems -- I should make that clearer in my review.

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  10. I loved AWS so much. I appreciated everything about this book. I love how it wasn't a romance book and I loved the poems and the Emily Dickinson connection.

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  11. Great review! I've been curious about this one for a while, mostly because I happen to love poems, especially those by Emily Dickinson ;)
    I really like the atmosphere you describe! Really have to pick this one up when it's out.

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  12. I'm so confused about if I want to read this one or not. The cover is so beautiful and the synopsis sounds interesting, but there's just something about it that... I'm not sure, but I just feel wary of this one. Though the fact that you recommend it gives me hope. Plus now I'm very interested in seeing how the setting was used to get rid if technology and how that added to the story. Great review, Jen!

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  13. I'm not a big fan of poetry either.. and I'm not such a fan of ghosts or "souls" as well.. Though I'm glad you still ended up enjoying it more than you thought so! Great review! oh, and I absolutely love that cover!
    - Farah

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  14. I've never actually read a Jenny Hubbard book before! But this just sounds so hauntingly beautiful XD Plus I like that it takes place in a different time period, it's a nice little 'twist' to YA.

    Also, SO glad this isn't all in verse as I am severely allergic to those types of book and end up coming out in a rash ;)

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  15. I'm definitely not a lover of poems either - all that analysis in high school really puts me off them now, but I do appreciate beautiful prose when I understand it and it's not just there for the sake of flowery language. This actually sounds like a beautiful novel, the cover looks really pretty too. It's weird to think of the 1990s as the past...and that it was 20 years ago! Wow!

    Joy @ Thoughts By J
    http://thoughtsbyj.com

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  16. If your impressed by the ending of the book than I'll think I will be too. Nice review and thanks for sharing.

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  17. I'm glad to hear the book isn't all poems, and I've been meaning to read Paper Covers Rock, but this sounds very intriguing, so maybe I'll start with this instead. Wonderful review!

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