Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis via Goodreads:
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.
*Approved via netgalley
Wonderfully written; the author used words exquisitely well throughout the book that made me want to beg her for lessons. Sadly, the writing didn't bring forth a more impactful character, in my opinion. I couldn't connect with Emily as much as I'd like to. She really had the potential to pull me in, depicting so much guilt among other things, but I feel writing the story as third person in present tense made certain things too detached for me. And as delightful as it is to not only share a birthday and hobby with Emily Dickinson, I would have loved to learn more about Emily Beam's story because in all honesty, not much was given, and when drifting down memory lane, things were explained in fragments and it almost seemed as if it wasn't Emily Beam's experience at all.
The poetry was great. There were things I needed to read over a few times to interpret the meaning as best as I could, but overall, the concepts were brilliant. I also liked how Emily came in contact with someone like K.T., a young girl going through guilt as well. K.T.'s personality was warm and inviting. She's the kind of friend anyone would love to have. I liked her ways of encouragement, and how she wouldn't press Emily to revel anything about herself that she wasn't comfortable sharing. K.T.'s character wasn't so much as a filler or another underdeveloped minor character, she's part of what makes the story likable. Aside from her, I didn't get the same feeling towards any other character, which is fine.
As for Paul, I wanted to learn so much more about him, like why he did what he did? and what made him get so deeply attached to Emily? Not a lot was given, pertaining to his story, but the little granted painted him as someone with serious issues, whether it had something to do with his self-worth, or wanting to keep Emily in his life at all cost. I even wondered if what happened to her was done on purpose by him, regardless of the goings of that particular event. Still, the readers will never know because like I said, not much was given to fully explain Paul's story.
Once more, And We Stay is a magnificently written novel that can keep you interested, in terms of its descriptiveness and thought-provoking poetry. However, I feel there are gaps in the story, and the narration and tense used might not rub every reader the right way. In my case, I liked it enough to keep going, so do give it a try.