Genre: YA contemporary
Pages: 240 (for hardcover)
Publication date: January 28th, 2014
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.Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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.
*Clarification: this book has poetry in it, but it's not written in verse. It's written in prose with a lot of poems from the main character and Emily Dickinson mixed in with it.
And We Stay was a lyrical and beautiful story about coming to terms with loss. While it was a good story, it wasn't as strong or as impacting as it had the potential to be.
HERE'S WHAT I LIKED
Like I said, it was a beautiful story. I liked the point of it and I loved how it was written—seamless transitions between past and present with poems dispersed throughout. Books written like this one tend to sit well with me. I liked the soulful and somber feel to this one; it fit well with Emily's story. There was also a connection between the main character and Emily Dickinson that I simply loved!
One of the other things I liked was the absence of romance. That wasn't the spotlight. There wasn't even a central couple. Well, in Emily's flashbacks, she remembers Paul and her relationship with him, but it didn't have that romance-y feel to it. Her memories of him were quite brief (thought there were a lot of memories) and more or less dispassionate. I appreciated the lack of romance—it would've been unnecessary if there was a lot of it. No big spotlight on romance meant there was more room for the rest of the story to be told and for its messages to be delivered.
HOWEVER . . .
There was a distanced feel to the entire book. We didn't become in tune with Emily's emotions as much as we (or at least, I) hope. Because of that, the power and the impact of this girl's journey towards recovery was watered down—muffled. It didn't come through as strong as it could have. There was a ton of potential for this book to be heartbreaking and memorable, but it didn't reach that level for me.
And We Stay was well worth the read. It didn't take long to finish and I mostly enjoyed it. The only problem was that it missed that emotional mark where the story pulls the readers in and makes them truly get to know and sympathize with the characters. There was too much distance—in the characters, in the characters, I'm not exactly sure—that just . . . left this book short of its full potential.
My questions for you:
What usually makes a book feel distanced to you?
Do you like it when poetry is used in books?