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And We Stay
Cover of And We Stay
And We Stay
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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...
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...
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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 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.



  • From the book There are rumors the day Emily Beam arrives at the Amherst School for Girls—in January, halfway through her junior year. She doesn't look like the other girls, who look like girls in magazines. She doesn't sound like them, either, and she wears different shoes. As she sits on a bed she's never slept in, in the first room she's ever shared, Emily announces to the tall, curly-haired blonde standing by the window that she's come from Boston. This isn't a lie. It is where she's stayed for the past month.
    K.T. nods and looks down at Emily's feet. "What size shoe do you wear?"
    "Seven," Emily says.
    K.T. walks over to her closet and digs out a pair of navy-blue clogs with wooden heels.
    "Here," says K.T. "Wear these."
    Emily takes off her rubber-soled Mary Janes.
    "They'll be a size too big," K.T. says, "which will make it tough to walk on those little pebbles out there, but at least no one will talk shit about you."
    As Emily slips on the clogs, K.T. takes the black Mary Janes and drops them—clunk, clunk—into the steel trash can.
    "You can wear your pj's to class if you want," K.T. says. "A lot of us do."
    Emily takes in her roommate's casual elegance: the untucked white button-down, the purple cashmere cardigan, the necklace of tiny turquoise beads, the brown suede boots with scuffed toes. Emily looks down at her new giant feet. "I have to go to the bathroom," she says.
    "Do you remember where it is?" K.T. points. "Just at the end of the hall."
    In the bathroom, Emily sweeps her long hair up into a messy ponytail, which is the style here, she's noticed. In the morning—her first day of class—she'll wear the Harvard sweatshirt she got in Boston. As far as boarding schools go, Emily has no idea how Amherst School for Girls ("ASG," K.T. calls it—like ask but with a g) compares. Boarding school? It wasn't even in the realm of possibilities; it wasn't even on the radar screen. And by the time Aunt Cindy convinced Emily's parents that it was necessary, ASG was the only school that would take her, and that was only because there was an extra bed since K.T.'s prior roommate, Hannah, had been expelled for sneaking out late at night to meet townies.
    "You're a Hart Girl now," K.T. tells Emily on their way to dinner.
    "A heart girl?"
    "Yeah," says K.T. "As in Hart Hall, where we live."
    "Oh, right," says Emily. The dorm doesn't look like dorms she's seen in pictures or movies. It's a house, a sprawling Victorian one, painted gray with purple trim, tucked behind a high row of boxwoods.
    "ASG was the wrong place for Hannah to begin with. This place is about the mind, and Hannah, well, she was all about the body."
    Townies. Dorms known as halls. Cafeterias called dining rooms. To survive here, Emily is going to have to learn a whole other language.
    Maybe that's why the poem comes sweeping in that very first night at ASG. In the past, Emily Beam has written poems only when a teacher has required her to, but as soon as she lies down on her single bed under the slope of the old wooden roof, lines unspool like ribbons, and she can't fall asleep until she ties them into bows.
    At the start, she stands: an opening
    between the high, chopped-off
    hedges. She can walk, one
    foot, then another,
    over the little pebbles.
    It all looks so English,
    so civilized, until
    the dead end.
    The dead end. The dead
    end. The wind lends
    the hedge its own green
    voice. But what human speaks
    Hedge? What antiquated
    map shows a girl
    the way?
    No exit sign in neon
    points her out.
    No bread crumbs
    on a path. If only
    she were a pencil
    with an eraser, she
    could draw herself
    Emily Beam, January 15, 1995


About the Author-

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


  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 21, 2013
    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.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from November 15, 2013
    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)

    COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from January 1, 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

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from November 15, 2013
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* Like Paper Covers Rock (2011), Hubbard's sophomore novel has a boarding-school setting and a main character who writes poetry and draws inspiration from a famous writer. And also like Paper Covers Rock, this novel is accomplished, polished, and mixes prose and poetry to stunning effect. After Emily Beam discovers that she is pregnant and breaks up with her boyfriend, he walks into the school library, threatens Emily, and then shoots himself. After an abortion, Emily is sent away to the Amherst School for Girls, in Amherst, Massachusetts, which is located in the hometown of Emily's idol, Emily Dickinson. The spirit of Dickinson is everywhereeven her voice echoes in Emily's headand as Emily immerses herself in Dickinson's 1,775 poems, she writes her anguish into poems of her own, which flood her brain constantly. Emily's path to healing involves moving back and forth in time, to memories of Paul, and sharing her poems with empathetic roommate, K. T. The third-person, present-tense voice is compelling. Sounding almost like stage directions ( Emily Beam is sighing all the time ), Hubbard's narrative tone will only make readers want to lean in closer. The poems themselves are insightful and poignant, illuminating the dark corners of Emily's psyche. And though Emily may be damaged and the winter of 1994 is long, happier timesand springseem on the horizon.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2013, American Library Association.)

  • John Corey Whaley, author of the Michael L. Printz and William C. Morris award winner, Where Things Come Back

    "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."

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    Random House Children's Books
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