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review 2015-11-15 18:50
Review: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
And We Stay - Jenny Hubbard

I read this a couple of years back at the end of the year and am just now writing a review for it since listening to the audiobook version. This will be a brief review/summary because I'm reacting to the overarching story itself. "And We Stay" is a difficult book to read (and rate, to be honest with you). It touches on quite a few sensitive topics, from suicide to depression to issues regarding teen pregnancy and abortion. Emily Bean is a character I followed well throughout the narrative - having moved from her old school and home into a new boarding school and adjusting to life there while thinking back to the events that lead her there in the first place. It switches between past and present (well, the present being 1995), though I found the transitions smooth and unemcumbered, and it's told in third person present tense (which in longer narratives would probably bother me, but since this was such a short read, I thought it was fine. Plus the audiobook translation ended up being really, really well done).

Poetry is one of my first loves in writing, so I actually loved the poetry incorporation and the chance to learn a bit about Emily Dickinson's life in grief parallels made with Emily Bean's character. Emily Bean is a young woman who's searching for her identity, so it would make sense that she's trying to find something to connect to in the scheme of this story, between the poems she writes and the life of Emily Dickinson. On a psychological level, it makes sense that she's finding something to hold on to when it feels like she doesn't have an identity between the bouts of grief brought on by her experiences and trauma. I did like that Emily found other connections, including her relationship with K.T., that were showcased in the book.

But this book did hurt to read because of what happens to Emily, and there's - I feel - a fair handling and responsibility of address in the sensitive topics it chooses to showcase in Emily's experience. But I think what made the narrative stand out in my mind ultimately was the gradual coming to terms and unveiling of it all, if even in such a brief narrative and in a symbolic way.

This narrative may be a hit or miss given the way it chooses to tell Emily's story, but I thought it was well worth the read.

Overall score: 4/5 stars.

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.

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review 2014-04-22 16:46
Review: Paper Covers Rock
Paper Covers Rock - Jenny Hubbard

I bought this book a while back and finally got time to read it. It began a little slow but once I got more to the meat of the story it grew on me.


Plot: This is about a boy, who is in a private all boys school, and a tragic incident has happen. Alex feels let down that he was not on time to save his friend. This plot did move slow in the beginning due to the author giving the reader lots of background information. Once you get more to the middle and more lies and truths began to come out, the story begins to paint a bigger picture of what actually happened.


Web Of lies: I didn’t think that guys can lie as well as girls. These guys made lies on top or more lies, they fought and brought other down faster than a quarterback on a Friday night. I mean, really these guys could give mean girls a run for their money. We all knows that lies can only cover for so long and then before you know it, the truth comes out.


Ending: I really liked how in the end, all is revealed. The author did a great job leading the reader piece by piece till the very end.


This is great book. Not only is it small but it really packs a punch. It’s one of those stories that sticks with the reader even after its finished. I thought about it for days. About the lies and about the truth. Paper Covers Rock is a great read.

Source: www.bookswithbite.net
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review 2014-03-26 23:13
And We Stay
And We Stay - Jenny Hubbard

She had almost laughed at how absurd it all was, how water made mud of the ground. How hearts made mud of the world.


And We Stay is one of those books that's hard to explain - there was a lot of emotion and a lot of tragedy, but it's really hard to say why it hit me the way it did. I'm usually not a huge fan of poetry, but I really enjoyed Emily's. It flowed very well, and even the normal writing of And We Stay was beautiful and poetic.


But let's talk about Emily herself. I didn't really connect with her, but this is a different case than usual. It's not that she's flat. The reason that I couldn't connect with her was very simple - she doesn't connect with herself. She's so lost in her grief and even her solitude that it just kills her personality. And let me tell you, it's hard to read about someone who's dying inside. But she regains a little of her life throughout the book, and that's what's so great about it. You get to see her journey from one moment in her life to the next. And it's interesting.


As I said before, the writing was gorgeous, and it made it all that much easier for the past and the future to intertwine seamlessly throughout And We Stay. I never felt jarred or anything like that, which is very rare for me.


The biggest thing that And We Stay communicates is an overwhelming sadness - and honestly, sometimes it's great to be sad. I liked being sad for this book, and figuring out the mysteries of how and why that it left behind.


All in all, And We Stay is a good read. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who's looking for a sad, heartfelt read.


The same sky that once held her dreams has stolen her story. And the stars will know just how to tell it: night after night, over and over.


The boy I loved had the veins of the ancient. He was eighteen, but also a hundred and eighty, Biblical and stubborn as stone lodged in the earth.

Source: thebookbabesreads.com
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review 2014-03-25 18:06
when beauty is empty
And We Stay - Jenny Hubbard

For more reviews visit The Accidental Reader


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 

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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review 2014-03-05 00:00
And We Stay
And We Stay - Jenny Hubbard Actual rating: 2.5 stars

When I read a book about grief or loss, I expect it to resonate with me in some way. I expect it to make me feel or make me think... and, unfortunately, And We Stay did none of those things.

And We Stay is told in third person present tense which definitely made it difficult to read. Although the prose was beautifully written and often gave me writing envy, the narrative style made it incredibly hard to connect with Emily. Her circumstances were told to me, rather than shown, leading me to feel very detached from her character - despite the fact that I knew I should be sympathizing with her. The only points where I was able to make any sort of emotional connection with Emily was while I was reading her poetry at the end of each chapter, but even those weren't enough to make Emily a substantial main character.

While it was difficult to understand Emily's emotions, it was virtually impossible to understand the motivations of any of the other characters. After reading, I still don't quite understand why Paul committed suicide -- the reason behind the action was eventually uncovered, but I don't feel like I truly had a good enough grasp on his personality to understand the emotions that drove him to such an act.

Overall, And We Stay had a lot of potential to be a book that I really enjoyed, but the third person present tense left me feeling very detached from both the story and the characters.
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