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And We Stay

And We Stay

3.6 9
by Jenny Hubbard

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
Gr 9 Up—Emily Beam is a new student at Amherst School for Girls. There are rumors, of course, about why she has entered the school in January of her junior year, but none of them come close to reality. The truth remains only for Emily to replay over and over, each time revealing a bit more about the circumstances leading up to the day when her boyfriend entered the school library where she was working with her class, lured her into the stacks to talk, and then shot himself in the head. (By the way, If you're wondering why no one simply Googled Emily's mysterious past, her story is set in 1995, perhaps for that very reason.) As the teen acclimates to boarding-school life, she keeps her story close to her chest, but reveals herself little by little through the poems she writes and ultimately shares. Emily feels an affinity for her namesake, Emily Dickinson, who lived and wrote just down the street from ASG, and draws on her spirit to pour her emotions onto paper. And We Stay is a little gem of a book. Readers learn as much about Dickinson's beliefs and poetry as they do about friendship, first love, teen suicide, and even abortion-not an easy balancing act. Yet despite the heavy topics, the book feels sweet and poetic and never gratuitous. Budding poets may particularly appreciate Emily's story, but there is certainly something for anyone looking for a good read with a strong, believable female lead who is working her hardest to overcome tragedy.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ
Publishers Weekly
Seventeen-year-old Emily Beam transfers to the Amherst School for Girls in the middle of her junior year carrying two secrets: her boyfriend Paul committed suicide after she broke up with him, and their breakup was motivated by her pregnancy and her parents’ pressure on her to have an abortion. Grieving and guilty, Emily discovers writing poetry to express her feelings, and Hubbard forms the novel with the same blend of prose and verse she used in her critically acclaimed debut, Paper Covers Rock. Less successfully, Hubbard forces a connection between Emily and Amherst’s most famous poet, Emily Dickinson, that never quite lives up to the younger Emily’s claim that “ brain has been hijacked,” despite her composing some charming Dickinson-style poetry. Hubbard’s writing is elegant and emotional in both styles, and the revelation of Emily’s history carries the first half of the book, though the plot falters when there is little of the past left to discover. Mature readers who enjoy a bit of melancholy and might spark to Dickinson will be in good company on Emily’s journey. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jonathan Lyons, Lyons Literary. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2013:
"Teasing out strands of the past and the present, Hubbard masterfully twines together a story of one girl’s journey to self-identity...As graceful as a feather drifting down, this lyrical story delivers a deep journey of healing on a tragic theme."

Starred Review, Booklist, November 15, 2013:
"This novel is accomplished, polished, and mixes prose and and poetry to stunning effect...Hubbard’s narrative tone will only  make readers want to lean in closer."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, January 2014:
"A little gem of a book...Despite the heavy topics, the book feels sweet and poetic and never gratuitous. Budding poets may particularly appreciate Emily’s story, but there is certainly something for anyone looking for a good read with a strong, believable female lead who is working her hardest to overcome tragedy."

Publishers Weekly, October 21, 2013:
"Hubbard’s writing is elegant and emotional...Mature readers who enjoy a bit of melancholy and might spark to Dickinson will be in good company on Emily’s journey."

BookPage, February 2014:
"Hubbard is an accomplished poet as well as a novelist, and Emily Beam’s poems are remarkably good. Writing these poems leads Emily out of the darkness of a New England winter and into a fragile spring—out of tragedy and into something resembling hope."

Shelf Awareness, February 21, 2014:
"Most poetry comes from a place of deep emotion. That's certainly true for Emily Beam, Jennifer Hubbard's (Paper Covers Rock) sympathetic protagonist in And We Stay... Hubbard convincingly integrates Emily Beam's poems alongside her recollections of Paul and her life before boarding school."

VOYA, December 2013:
"[Hubbard] captures perfectly the turbulence of young love, the bonds of friendship, and the push-and-pull dynamic between teens and adults...Definitely recommend this book to your introspective patrons who relish romantic tragedy, poetry, and intricate relationships among girls and their boyfriends, friends, and teachers."

TeenReads.com, January 22, 2014:
"This book is truly beautiful both inside and out. Within the story, Hubbard elegantly navigates the prose of Emily’s life combined with the many poems Emily writes to cope with the misfortunes that have befallen her...The way Hubbard writes AND WE STAY is both attractive and exquisite."

VOYA - Suzanne Osman
To cope with the trauma caused by witnessing her boyfriend's suicide after she ends their relationship, Emily Beam transfers to a boarding school in Massachusetts to start afresh. With the support of a new circle of quirky friends, a few empathic teachers, and the spirit of her favorite poet and namesake, Emily Dickinson, Emily learns how to manage the internal pangs of anger and guilt that have been haunting her. Sprinkled throughout the novel are samples of Emily's poignant and deeply lyrical poems about her relationship, her suffering, and the bubbles of healing that start to cushion her pain. "This is how she will go: on./ The light almost speaking,/ and March halfway gone,/ the green fields beyond,/ and the staying." Hubbard writes the prose of And We Stay with the same poetic delicacy she does Emily's poetry, and while some of the poems feel too sophisticated (in both insight and technique) for a high school student, she captures perfectly the turbulence of young love, the bonds of friendship, and the push-and-pull dynamic between teens and adults. The integration of fun facts about Emily Dickinson also serves to enrich the prose and Emily's growth throughout. Definitely recommend this book to your introspective patrons who relish romantic tragedy, poetry, and intricate relationships among girls and their boyfriends, friends, and teachers. Reviewer: Suzanne Osman
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Emily Beam has become “the new girl” at an exclusive boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, also the home of the poet Emily Dickinson. She arrives in the middle of her junior year to a great deal of speculation about her past on the part of the other students. She has three ghosts in her past; one of her dead boyfriend who killed himself in front of her after threatening her with a gun, one of their aborted child, and one who seems to be of the famed poet. Only the headmistress in the school knows about the suicide and no one at the school knows about the abortion. Emily cannot talk to her new classmates about herself, but she starts writing poetry in order to cope with her grief and her guilt. In elegant prose, we learn about Emily’s past and in equally elegant verse interspersed with the prose, we learn about her feelings. Her new roommate is also a survivor and together, with the help of the French teacher and another classmate, Emily manages to find herself and begin to emerge from her despair. Emily is a likeable teenager and is working hard to recover from her personal tragedy. Reviewer: Ellen Welty; Ages 14 up.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-23
A strong, gentle, smart and powerful book about suicide's aftermath. Emily Beam is no goody-goody. She breaks the rules of the Amherst School for Girls--a boarding school in Massachusetts where her parents have placed her after her boyfriend Paul's suicide and her abortion--when she feels she needs to. But the rules are broken in the service of her agency. Emily is driven to write out her grief and horror (Paul shot himself in front of her in her former school's library) in private poems she models after her inspiration, Emily Dickinson (another one-time Amherst resident). Teasing out strands of the past and the present, Hubbard masterfully twines together a story of one girl's journey to self-identity. In past-tense flashbacks, readers learn the circumstances of Emily and Paul's relationship, while the poems Emily writes in her present-day environment infuse those same circumstances with newly realized perceptions. The narrative switches to present tense when it relates Emily's current life in boarding school, a fresh and unexplored world with emerging possibilities as well as potential pitfalls. The layered story evolves naturally as Emily's creative courage first unravels and then reassembles her understanding of what has happened to her and what part she has played. As graceful as a feather drifting down, this lyrical story delivers a deep journey of healing on a tragic theme. (Fiction. 14-18)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Random House
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
14 Years

Meet the Author

JENNY HUBBARD is also a poet and playwright. Her debut novel, Paper Covers Rock, was a William Morris YA Debut Award Finalist.

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And We Stay 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
No one expected senior Paul Wagoner would walk into his high school with a gun. No one thinks he planned to kill himself and never walk out. Not even his girlfriend, Emily Beam, expected to be threatened by Paul as he confronted her in their high school library. But all of those things did happen. Paul is gone and with him pieces of Emily are gone too. Even before his suicide, Emily knew she would never be the same. She just didn't know it would hurt this much. Vacillating between guilt and anger, Emily Beam is sent to an all girls boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts. Surrounded by history from Emily Dickinson's life, Emily delves into poetry and her new life hoping to escape. She has help along the way from her habitual liar roommate K. T. and a girl who likes to steal almost as much as she likes to paint. But it is only Emily herself who can forgive and leave her past behind in And We Stay (2014) by Jenny Hubbard. And We Stay is Hubbard's second novel. The story is set in 1995 for reasons that are never entirely clear. Despite the obvious setting (all of Emily's poems are dated) the novel is largely timeless. And We Stay is a very short, very fast read. In spite of that, Hubbard's prose is imbued with substance as this slim novel tackles weighty topics ranging from feminism to processing loss and grief. Written in the third person, present tense this story is often very distancing. Emily Beam is at a remove from readers, however it's easy to think she prefers it that way. Flashbacks to Emily's relationship with Paul, the shooting, and other key moments are interspersed throughout the main narrative of Emily's first two months at the boarding school. Each chapter ends with one of Emily's poems which also further develop the story. Emily Dickinson also features heavily as a character of sorts--her poems are used throughout the story and a somewhat improbable plot thread at the end of the novel revolves around Dickinson's family home in Amherst. It's rare to find books that focus so heavily and so well on girls. And We Stay is one of those books. Emily Beam is a prickly, sad, and surprisingly real heroine. Her observations throughout the story are caustic and insightful in a way heroines rarely get to be in most novels. Hubbard's portrayal of Emily's relationships with her new friends and her French teacher are beautifully handled and shockingly real. Although the pacing was slow and a little strange (with a jarring plot thread late in the story), somehow it all works. The plot develops organically and the included poetry feels seamless. And We Stay is a lovely, thoughtful blend of poetry, feminism and fiction about a girl finding her voice. Possible Pairings: Hate List by Jennifer Brown, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart, Falling Through Darkness by Carolyn MacCullough, Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales, Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez, The Beautiful Between by Alyssa B. Sheinmel, Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser, Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Some Things That Stay by Sarah Willis
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
The cover is really good. But what I like most about this was the poetic writing style the book had going.All the while poems were intertwined with the story. It did get sad at times but also had moments when it was good. Like the growing friendship of Emily and her classmates. Reminded me a bit of another book, A Breath of Eyre, what with the literary theme. Quick but good read.
lakraft More than 1 year ago
Excellent all too real teen book that could easily take place in this day and age. This book (without spoilers) is about a teen that makes decisions that many teens make now a day and has to live up to her choices and the aftermath of decisions. Quickly pulls you in and holds your interest throughout.
pagese More than 1 year ago
I was worried how this book would portray these events. It's a was delicate subject for sure. It was lacking in the details and emotion I wanted. And their are a few chain of events that just didn't sit well with me. I never fully understood how Paul ended up shooting himself. The events are told through flashbacks. I almost would have liked something that expressed Paul's thoughts because Emily feels so disconnected from all of this. His actions seem so intense for what happened. I think he was trying to get his feeling heard and noticed, but either the author didn't convey this moment well....or Paul never meant to hurt anybody. So, we're back to how did he end up shooting himself? In the stomach no less. I don't think that's a "normal" route to suicide. I did think Emily's emotions were completely valid. I just didn't like how she got to were she was. I think she handled the entire situation very poorly. I'm not saying Paul's death is her fault. I just think there are a lot of other ways she could have handled this. Her parents reacted to the issues poorly as well. But, in light of all of these, it's no wonder that Emily goes into a deep depression. It's a lot of for any person to handle. I think this book could have been great. And maybe it's my own personal thoughts on certain events that happen in this book that sway my opinion. It just wasn't all that I had hoped it would be.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I had trouble getting through And We Stay. On the one hand you have the beautiful, poetic writing style, which shows how talented the author is. There are tons of verses spread throughout the book, and they’re all equally powerful and engaging. However, the writing was also one of the main problems why I couldn’t connect with the main character. Due to the poetic style, that doesn’t seem to fit an ordinary teenager, the main character and writing feel like they’re miles apart, and the reader is detached from the story. Add in the tense – third person, present time – which is an odd combination either way, and you end up with a book that’s beautifully written, but whose characters didn’t connect with me the way they should. The story centers around Emily, who moves to another school after her ex-boyfriend threatened her with a gun in the library of her old school, and then committed suicide. Emily tries to come to terms with what happened, and her own guilt. She makes new friends, finds a deeper connection to Emily Dickinson, and poetry. I loved the plot, especially the plot that concerned Emily Dickinson and the current Emily, Emily Beam’s, connection to her. The poems and verses were great too. But a story like this, is very personal. We need to get personal with the main character, and unfortunately, that never happens. We’re kept in the dark as to the main character’s thoughts and emotions. We have no idea what Emil thinks, or why. We see her sadness only reflected from the outside, never from within. Ultimately, this book was a mediocre read. The writing was gorgeous, amazing. But I couldn’t connect to the characters, or feel their pain, which is an absolute must for a book that is mostly about pain, and how to get over grief.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Emily has endured a very public tragedy and escapes to her aunt's home and then boarding school to recover.  The reader is given bits and pieces of the story as it unfolds, but only as it is needed.   If you are a reader that is not in any remote way a fan of poetry, you may want to skip this one.  As our main character incorporates the poetry that she is currently writing into the story and is quite obsessive about Emily Dickinson; I enjoyed having her poetry add to the story, but I am not the hugest of poetry fans.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    I requested to read this one on Netgalley because I have always been draw to self-harm and suicide, and even though I was touched personally by suicide by gun with my dad in 2012, those key words still attract my attention and I want to read it. I don't know if its healthy, but I just feel compelled to read about others who have been through these things, and see how they heal, and move on.      When I read the synopsis, I saw a keyword that I had missed when I first requested though--the dreaded (for me) prose. I almost didn't even start this one, but I still picked it up and opened it and I am glad that I did. Most of it is done in narrative, and while I skimmed the poems, they were not primarily how the story is told. And We Stay is told in a somewhat strange to me format though, it is 3rd person, and that is not the prevalent way to tell a story in YA these days, and sometimes it distances me from the main character, but it was no so with Emily.      I of course related to her because a loved one killed himself, but also just her whole countenance and way of thinking. It wasn't overly dark to where I was depressed every time I picked it up, since it is a bit out from the big event and she is already at the boarding school. I can also totally relate how she keeps people at arm's length although mine happened even before grief and because of my anxiety, but hers is because the girls at school don't know what she went through with her boyfriend Paul, and she doesn't want them to.       The story was well paced, and it was all about the flashbacks, piecing together the relationship between Paul and Emily, and what led them to that day. We see Emily working through things in her own head and through writing poetry and trying to heal. She begins to trust others as well as reach out to people that she knew from her hometown, those who knew her and who also knew Paul, who are grieving as well.      This story is all about character development and even though there wasn't huge action scenes, there was lots of powerful and emotional things, as well as a blossoming friendship that kept me enthralled.       I enjoyed this journey with Emily and recommend to those who love a darker and emotional contemporary.  Bottom Line: Great contemporary, very emotional and lots of character growth. 
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
Poetic story about the aftermath of a school shooting I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House and Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review. I would rate this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars. This book was a little different that what I expected. I love picking up a book and seeing a story told in a completely different manner than I had thought it would. Jenny Hubbard is able to tell the story of moving on after tragedy poetically. Emily's boyfriend, Paul, has just killed himself with a gun in the school library in front Emily. Her family insists upon Emily changing schools after this event so she finds herself at an all girls boarding school where Emily Dickinson once attended. Emily tells much of what has happened leading up to this point through her poetry. This is a story about moving on and Emily starts to do that by the end of the book. This book is told in third person with Emily feeling a bit distant at times. Before I started the book, I worried that it was going to be another overly dramatic teen novel. I was wrong. Emily is anything but overly dramatic. She keeps her pain to herself and tries to fit into her new school. She is not trying to make lots of friends she just wants to keep from standing out in the crowd. She is quiet and withdrawn and only lets some of her pain out through her poems. I am not a big fan of poetry but the poetry in this book helps to tell the story and it was very well done. I thought the characters in this book rang very true. Most people find themselves going through the motions after a life changing event as we see Emily doing. One thing that I did note in the book was that it was set in the mid 90s. I am not sure what the rationale for this was. The only thing major change in teens today and then is technology. Who knows maybe the author just did not want to deal with everybody at her new school knowing who Emily was because of a you tube video. I found this book to be very well written and I would definitely recommend it to others. This book deals with some very tough issues and it is handled well. I will definitely look for more from this author.
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
"Life – and this was what she was learning – was not something that could be controlled, no matter how smart you were or how smart your parents were." I'm not entirely sure how to summarize how I felt about And We Stay. I think that's mostly because I just don't know how I felt. As much as I wanted to like the book, I just felt like I never truly connected with Emily. I think that's partially my fault because I'm not someone who tends to enjoy poetry. That's truthfully what led me to give the book three stars instead of the two I was originally considering. It's not the author's fault I don't like/understand/appreciate most poetry. It didn't seem right to take off a star because I think my lack of connection with the story is because of that alone. "Feelings are feelings," she said, repeating something her grandmother used to say. "There isn't a rightness or wrongness to them. They just are." Emily went through something devastatingly awful. Actually, it was more a series of tough situations and not just one specific thing. I'm not heartless. I did feel sympathy for Emily. I think most anyone would. No teenager should have to deal with the things she did. She was very likable, but because I couldn't find a level on which I related to her, I found myself missing the connection I have with characters in books I tend to really and thoroughly enjoy. "No, really. I want to go back. Being a kid teaches you that you're the queen of your forest, and then whammo. You have to pack up your toys and start playing games with real people. I'm not so sure we're ready yet. I think we should play with our toys just a little longer." All that's not to say that I didn't respect what the author did with this book. I absolutely did. This book took an unflinchingly honest – and at times gut-wrenchingly emotional – look at some very tough issues. But as devastating the things that happened in Emily's past were, the book was also hopeful. She built strong friendships in Massachusetts. I liked that the book focused on Emily healing herself with the help of friends (and the "ghost" of Emily Dickinson) and not by finding another guy. Aside from the flashbacks to her time with Paul, there is no romance in this book. I respect that. I think adding a new romance to Emily's life would have cheapened the entire book. It was anything but that. So, while And We Stay might not have been the book for me, I know there are readers who will have a deeper appreciation for it than I did. It was beautifully written and the story was unique. It was real and emotional. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. All quotes come from the review copy and may differ from the final version.