And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard is another book from the YA You Must Read List that I stumbled upon and it’s another one where I’m kind of split on the outcome.
Emily Beam is sent off to boarding school after her boyfriend brings a gun to school and shots himself. You have to feel bad for Emily because trust me there’s a lot more to the story and I found her nearly non-existent parents to be pretty awful for just dumping her. She gets lucky with a friendly roommate, a caring French teacher and a bit of an obsession with Emily Dickinson that spills over into her poems. Emily’s poems punctuate the story and they are lovely. I appreciated the fact that Emily used the poems as an outlet for her pain and survivor’s guilt. There are some illusions to a deeper connection perhaps between both Emily’s but it never really went to far into that in my opinion.
It’s a good book and if you can handle the subject matter probably an important (and maybe even helpful) book. In the end though I felt Emily remained too much at a distance. Hard to explain, I liked reading it but no more than a couple of days out I can’t really remember anything about Emily but the poems and the horrible thing that happened to her.
The story contains suicide, school violence, survivor’s guilt and an abortion that, if not forced, the character was at least ambivalent about undergoing. I’m glad I read the book even though I didn’t love it and thought it could have been deeper.
Having lost a friend recently I kept seeing the title of this book in my head as Why We Stay and I couldn’t help but think because we have too. We have to learn however we can that the only way is forward and after reading the book I did try to write some poems myself. Hence the confusion in my own head- the book and the characters might not have registered but the ideas did and they helped.