Saturday, September 26, 2015

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard (review by Sharon)

Author: Jenny Hubbard
Number of Pages: 240 pages
Date published: 28 January 2014
Publisher: Random House Delacrote Press
Buy on: AmazonAmazon UKBarnes & NobleBook Depository
Rating: 2 stars

""In And We Stay, Jenny Hubbard treats tragedy and new beginnings with a skilled, delicate hand.  Her otherworldly verse and prose form a flowing monument to all the great storytellers of the past." --John Corey Whaley, author of the Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris award winner, Where Things Come Back

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"


Do you love poetry? If so, you might want to give this book a chance. 

But for those of you who don't like poetry or don't feel anything particular towards it, well, you might want to hear me out. 

(Those who love are welcome to join as well, of course)

When I started this book I was awed at the beauty of the writing. But as the story progressed I found myself thinking that I might give this book 5 stars despite not liking it at all because the writing was very beautiful. 

I sobered up.

I do not like poetry in general. Maybe I do not possess the gentle soul required. Yes, I read poetry every once in a while. Yes, sometimes a poem, a paragraph or a phrase cut through me in a violent way- just like the waves that crush on the beach. Sometimes I listen to a song and something touches me so deeply I'm rendered speechless.

But more often than not I simply go on with my life. 

I appreciate poems, I appreciate anyone who write poems. Poems can be short or long or come in so many different ways, sizes and shapes just like people do. And you need to convey something, a short message in them. This, IMO, makes it all the more difficult. In a novel you have time to build you message, a poem requires a much more direct approach.

I like that.

The problem starts, once again in my humble opinion (I am no expert nor do I intend to be), when you try to write things in such a unique and beautiful way that the message eventually is 'lost in translation'. [this, I think, can be told on most versions of art]
Perhaps my figure of speech is no adequate, but I feel this is the best way to convey it. While we might all read something in the same language the way we understand it is different. And I'd like to think of that as another sort of translation. 

Now, back to the book.

And We Stay is a book about a girl (aka Emily) who deals with a trauma; her boyfriend killed himself in front of her eyes. The reasons remain to be explored as the book progresses. I am happy to divulge that as you continue reading you realize there is nothing simple here, like most stories, there was more than one right choice. 

We meet Emily as she starts her life in a new school, and soon she deals with her grief, her blame and her trauma through poetry and two nice girls she befriends. Emily learns how to move on. 

What is the problem then?

The writing, the very thing that I thought will make me give this book 5 stars ended up the reason why I'm giving it less. And why I DNFed the book (I did skim through, so I know it all, but still…)

The writing is so beautiful, so poetic you might want to claim this whole book is just one huge poem. 

But sometimes beauty is empty. 

Maybe that's a cruel thing to say, but I find it to be true. While beauty may come in many variations, something remain empty no matter how beautiful they are. 

You see, Emily's story was the kind that might have broken my heart. I might have cried. But I didn't. no sting to the eyes….I felt only some vague notion of pity once in a while. And even that faded as the book progressed. 

The book was written so beautifully so lyrically, that the feelings; the pain, the hope, the cries. And ultimately everything (I dare say even the characterization) have been sacrificed in the name of the beautiful prose.

I don't need my characters to be likeable. Or sympathetic. I don’t need the story to be gut wrenching. But when I feel empty most of the time and confused the rest of the time because the sentence is written so damn beautifully that I can't comprehend what the fuck the writer wanted to say I feel that something is very very wrong here. [Forgive my language and yes, pun intended in case that was a pun]. 

In the end, I think it's a question of taste, if you like a beautiful prose you might like this book.

a review copy was kindly provided by the publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

this review is also on GoodReadsLeafMarksBookLikes

I can't. I just can't. 

Since I read half, I will still review it. But I can't keep on reading so I dnf this.

I complained about the book the other day and my friend asked me why do I keep on reading, my answer was because I got an arc. 

The thing is that I don't want to pick it up. So I think I just shouldn't. 


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