Wednesday, July 09, 2014

And We Stay, by Jenny Hubbard

After witnessing her boyfriend shooting himself in their school library, Emily Beam is sent to a private boarding school in Amherst.  There, she wallows in the poetry of local native Emily Dickinson and tries to cope with her feelings of guilt and loss.  The story, told through third-person narration and Emily's own verse, attempts to meld together the process of grief and the psyche of Dickinson's writings.

An ambitious, but ultimately impersonal look at grief.  It is all beautifully written, but the exercise is largely heartless as we never are allowed in to Emily's heart and mind.  That she is sad and writes moody navel-gazing poetry we have no doubt, but she is otherwise a very closed book.  And the other characters, from the equally repressed roommate KT to the kleptomaniac Amber, don't really add much to our understanding or to the story.  It's a pretty work, but distant and non-illuminating.  And very much like her earlier work Paper Covers Rock (see my 11/27/2011 review).

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