And We Stay (YA) by Jenny Hubbard

AndwestaySpoiler Alert

With this book we have an interesting case where it won numerous awards, but readers gave it mixed reviews (3.7/5 stars).

The book opens with Emily Beam starting second semester as a junior at Amherst School for Girls. Although there is a lot of speculation about the new girl, Emily does her best to keep her secrets locked safely inside. Almost immediately she turns to writing poetry and begins to feel an affinity with the town’s most famous former resident, Emily Dickinson. Slowly the reader finds out that Emily is dealing with the tragedy of her boyfriend’s suicide, an abortion, and adjusting to a new school with very little support. This is one of the best YAs I’ve read in a long time. It’s believable and written from the heart.

In scanning some of the reviews, I’m forced to think that the book exceeds the maturity of its intended audience. Several reviewers couldn’t relate to the third person perspective which is a very traditional form of novel writing. Others were unsatisfied not knowing a specific reason for the boyfriend’s suicide, failing to understand that in real life those who stay behind often lack concrete answers. Some reviewers also wanted Emily to be head over heels in love and less confused over the abortion. Again, in real life people are often ambivalent and uncertain about their choices. For me, not having everything tied up neatly made the novel more realistic and therefore memorable. Hubbard writes about tough topics with compassion, humility, and hope.

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16 comments

  1. ellisnelson · April 2, 2015

    Reblogged this on ellisnelson and commented:

    I hope everyone will visit my new site. This one is geared to the books I write for young people (and those young at heart). I’ll be highlighting some great books and hosting some fabulous writers. Check it out!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Opher · April 10, 2015

    Thanks for your like on my piece. I am interested in what you are doing and will check it out further when I need another break.
    Cheers
    Opher from Opher’s World

    Like

  3. debpaulson · April 10, 2015

    I loved AND WE STAY. You make good points as to why some readers may not have connected with it. It covers difficult topics with no clear answers–but the ultimate answer is the resilience and compassion of the human soul–which is why it is so wonderful. In that sense, it is more adult, but it is also why young adults should read it.

    Like

    • ellisnelson · April 10, 2015

      I think it really is literary fiction. There’s a lot of fluff in YA and this is not an example of that. It would be a great book to read in a girl’s (teen) book club.

      Liked by 1 person

      • debpaulson · April 11, 2015

        That is a great idea–there is no need to dumb it down for teens, which is disrespectful, when you think about it.

        Like

      • ellisnelson · April 11, 2015

        Agreed!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Daedalus Lex · April 11, 2015

    I struggled with the literary novel/young adult dichotomy in my recent novel also. I’m not sure I have enough context to place it. E.g., how do you place Oliver Twist and Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer — literary fiction, for sure, but clearly grounded in a young adult world view??

    Like

    • ellisnelson · April 11, 2015

      Those titles are taught to teens in junior high and high school. Of course, this has been going before YA was even seen as a genre. I don’t think you have to worry much about specifying whether your writing is literary or not. Readers and the so-called experts will decide that. For agent and publisher purposes your book is YA if it’s intended to be read by young people. Keep in mind though that a sizable portion of YA readers are adult women.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Daedalus Lex · April 12, 2015

        Thanks, Ellis! Every new bit of context helps!

        Like

  5. elizabethferszt · April 14, 2015

    I don’t know this one — but looks worthy
    Have you read the Octavian Nothing books by MK Anderson?

    Like

  6. Pingback: And We Stay (YA) by Jenny Hubbard | Flamingcrystal Author
  7. Pingback: And We Stay (YA) by Jenny Hubbard | katywaltersreviews
  8. katywalterswritesnews · May 1, 2015

    Reblogged this on katywaltersreviews.

    Like

  9. KYg · May 11, 2015

    The box requires me to join the conversation. Is this mic on? Um yes, I have a question. What dimension are we on?

    Like

  10. KYg · May 11, 2015

    Never respond too fast, young padowan

    Like

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