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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Taut, Haunting And We Stay Short on Plot, Long on Hope

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Paul Wagoner walks into his high school with a loaded gun, Emily Beam is as shocked as everyone else.  She didn't know he'd take their break-up so hard, didn't know he'd end his own life, didn't know the tragedy would shatter them both.  Still reeling from it all, 17-year-old Emily is sent to Amherst, Massachusetts for a fresh start.  Her new boarding school might as well be on another planet, it's so different than what she's used to, but at least no one knows her there.  In this new world, she drifts through her classes like a ghost, writing poetry in an effort to come to terms with all that's happened to her over the past few months.

With the spirit of Emily Dickinson wafting through the town of Amherst—where the famous poet lived her entire life—it's no wonder the grieving teenager is drawn to her.  The writer's ethereal presence seems to hijack Emily Beam's brain, her presence a comfort as Emily works through her grief.  Between her obsession with the poet and her new friends in Massachusetts, a tentative hope starts to fill Emily.  Is it possible to move on after all that's happened?  Can she really start over, putting the past behind her and looking toward the future with eagerness?  Maybe.  Just maybe.

As you can probably tell, And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard is a little short on plot.  Because of that, it seems unfocused and a bit anticlimactic.  Still, its taut, haunting prose (and poetry) pulls the reader in, making us care about what happens to Emily Beam.  Although the story as a whole is kind of bleak and depressing, it ends on a triumphant, hopeful note.  Overall, then, it's a decent book, just not one that really moved or amazed me.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a little of Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (1 F-word, plus milder invectives), mild sexual content and adult subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

1 comment:

  1. I really liked And We Stay. I think there was enough plot for me. To me it was about Emily's journey to getting back to okay. It wasn't a physical journey as much as an emotional journey and I liked it. This was a total surprise for me and I loved it.

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