And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Standalone. Delacorte Press (Jan. 2014) NetGalley
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.

I'm glad I didn't go into reading And We Stay knowing what it was about. The subject matter hit me hard. There's this mystery that comes with not knowing the reason why Emily is shipped off to boarding school that makes it so much more interesting. Eventually when I did find out that Paul, her ex-boyfriend, killed himself and why he did it - it just put everything into perspective and had me feeling for Emily and her situation.

The poetry really came to life as the story progressed. Emily's words were worked into the story along with Emily Dickinson's work. I've never really read/remembered an Emily Dickinson poem. While discovering Emily and her background I was able to learn about Emily Dickinson's life and I began to care and want to read her poems right there and then.

Oh, yes, she could feel it
even though the bullet
had never stabbed her skin.
The bright white heat
burned at her core
where two lives
beat, and if he'd aimed
 there and pulled the trigger,
red would have crested
like a broken dam
over her hands
as her last word rushed
up to her throat-- Paul-- 
a sound that took no time and also lifetimes.” - Emily Beam

The poetry took a while to get used to, but it turned out really beautiful. I was in tears after reading a few of them. I liked the quirky friends Emily made, but they didn't make the story. Emily, her struggles, and her poetry made And We Stay worthwhile. And We Stay was way more impactful than I could have ever foreseen. And We Stay showed the real complexity of a decision and the lives it can affect.

What poet/poem really speaks to you?


  1. I don't really read poetry, but I really like the sound of this book, even if it is heartbreaking. I will give it a try. Thanks for your review! :D

    1. I don't either until I do and I usually enjoy the poetry I'm reading. You should give it a try. It's worth the read!

  2. This sounds like a powerful book and I am intrigued that it is a book that knowing less about it beforehand makes it better. The cover is really cool and the poetry style seems like it will add to the story. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. It's more powerful than I expected and the poetry really impacts the story (:


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