And We Stay
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Release: January 28th 2014
Genre: Contemporary, YA
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.
This book is ... interesting. I discovered it about a month ago, thought the cover looked gorgeous and the story sounded pretty cool, then saw it on Netgalley a few days ago, so I went ahead and requested it. And lookie there — I got an eARC copy, yay!
Anyways, I was pretty excited to go on reading it, so I did and ... well, I am a little disappointed, but I also didn't expect that much. The ratings on Goodreads aren't the best (for a reason), and I generally don't like Contemporary a whole lot, but I simply wanted to give it a try. I'm not angry or mad at this book though, because after all, it's still okay.
The whole plot is quite boring and uneventful, which is the main thing that took wind out of the sails, but like I said, I was kinda prepared for it, so I didn't mind too much. However, I think it's the spiritual journey and the revelations Emily draws that really matter here, both of which were done nicely. It's not a book that changed how I think about the world, but it did make me think about some things and question, and that's something I generally like in a book.
Now, what could have saved this, but didn't, was its characters. Most of them pretty two-dimensional and see-through, not really having any complexity to them and they felt like puppets, nothing more. I neither liked nor disliked any of them, and even though they were different from your average YA characters, it still didn't do it. What I did like, though, is that Hubbard stepped out of those clichés and comfort zones and created characters as well as situations most authors would shy away from, whereas she bravely took those steps and owned it. It made for, like I said, a very interesting story: Interesting, but still boring in the end, unfortunately.
The only thing I ever really came close to loving in this book, I think, was actually the writing, which was simply lovely. It felt very dreamy and magical, without getting too dangerously close to purple prose, and was actually really perfect in terms of balance between that. Not too heavy and thick, but still floaty and up in the clouds — should Hubbard ever write something other than Contemporary, definitely sign me up. With that writing style, hell yes. To be honest, I think her writing is what made it possible for me to actually read on without my eyeballs falling out of my skull from boredom. The writing is basically the other 1.5 stars. Well, okay, that's not entirely true, let's say her prose is one star and the intriguing topic and theme of the book the half star.
Hmm, what else can I say? Nothing, really. I'm still glad I got the chance to read this, and it's not a bad book, in fact, if you're into Contemporary and don't mind books with no true apparent plot in sight aside from some spiritual journey, then this might be just the thing for you.