Thursday 16 January 2014

Book Review - And We Stay

And We Stay
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Genres: Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: 28th January 2014
Publishers: Delacorte Press
No. Pages: 240
Source: Review Copy - Delacorte Press
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones (Audio)
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.

Usually, rating books is quite an easy task for me. If it was fantastic, but missing a little something, then it's a 4.5, and if it could have done with a lot more of this and a lot more of that, it's usually around 2 - 2.5 stars, however this book was much more difficult to rate than it's predecessors. I was torn between disliking the writing style and loving it, or feeling ashamed for the characters, but sympathetic, and in truth, I think my confusion highlights just how good an author Hubbard is, at least in this standalone novel.

As the description says, a young man named Paul, who we find out a lot about during the course of the book, threatens his girlfriend Emily and then takes his own life; this is false. I usually do my best to avoid spoilers in a review, and this isn't really a spoiler, more of a correction, because I feel some people may feel put off by the 'psycho boyfriend' esk this book gives off. Paul doesn't go into the school library and threaten Emily, not to the extent some people may assume; he asks her questions, and when he doesn't hear exactly what he'd hoped he would, and gets spotted handling a gun, things go from bad to worse and in the end, he ends up dead. And there's a lot more to this story than I ever would have expected; I thought the whole plot of the story was painful enough, but it wasn't. I experienced some shocking twists and some very torn and mashed up emotions towards all of the characters in this story, and not all of them are explainable, however, I think the subjects covered in And We Stay are so strong, and so delicate that, if you're anything like me, a big bag of explodable emotions, then you may just shed a tear.

I really did enjoy reading this book, but in the end, I don't think I could rate it on enjoyment, because in some sense, it's wrong to say I enjoyed hearing about how a young boy could come to take a gun into a school library, have his heart broken and end up killing himself. It's wrong to say I enjoyed hearing about Emily's struggles, both before and after the events in this book. It's wrong to say I enjoyed seeing how Emily developed as a character, throughout everything she'd ever been through, because this story could most definitely be based off a real life event. A real teenage couple, torn apart by nature, religion and death. There's no way I could even contemplate going into too much detail with this book, as I'd only start giving it away, spoiling it for other people or darting others away because of the other subjects covered, but I would seriously recommend this for people who like heartbreaking reads.

And We Stay covers a lot of daring and delicate subjects, right from the rawest points, to the most painful and traumatic, but in the centre, in covers the love of two teenagers, who's short relationship has some very serious repercussions on one another's lives. The description talks about the story being told in verse and in prose' but that's not quite true. I shan't take away the joy I had whilst reading And We Stay, but lets just say the story is told quite delicately, while Emily's feelings are told quite beautifully.In truth, this book originally received 4 stars, but some thought and realising I really did struggle with the story as a whole to begin with, it couldn't be rated that highly.


  1. I'm at the end of this book right now and you just summed up everything I feel about it. I'm not sure how I'm going to rate it yet, but it's beautiful, heartfelt, emotional, and plays my heartstrings like a mandolin. It had a really slow start, but it slowly blooms into something really shiny, hard to explain, and lovely. It's really not a book you can describe without giving away the story, but I think you did an excellent job with this review, Amanda.
    -Kelsey @ Verbosity Book Reviews

    1. It's such a difficult book to put into words, but I'm glad I mentioned something readable in the end.
      Thank you for taking the time to read it, I'll have to see what you said about it :)

  2. Middling books are always so hard to rate/review. I don't think it's wrong to say you enjoy those things, I love a good raw/honest book so I think there is a chance that I would be a pretty big fan of this one. It's just too bad it was missing a little something for you. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I think it has the opportunity to be a good read, it just depends on the person.
      Thank you for reading Jenni :)


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