Teen Book Club: And We Stay

And We StayAnd We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
Release Date: Jan  2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press 

Pages: 240

When high school senior Paul Wagoner walks into his school library with a stolen gun, he threatens his girlfriend, Emily Beam, and then takes his own life. Soon after, angry and guilt-ridden Emily is sent to boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, where two quirky fellow students and the spirit of Emily Dickinson offer helping hands. But it is up to Emily Beam to heal her own damaged self, to find the good behind the bad, hope inside the despair, and springtime under the snow.

Share, Skim, Shelve?
Sadly, this was a book that most of the group ended up not liking. There was some variety, but the ultimate breakdown came to 1 share, 1 skim, & 8 shelve.

What did you think of the poems? Helpful or hinderance?
Most of the teens really liked the poems. They thought it gave a nice insight into what was happening in Emily’s journey. A couple thought they were irrelevant, but still liked them anyway. And for a few, it was the only part they liked of the book.

If the time frame had been different would the story have changed? (Today vs. 1994/95)
They all agreed it would have been a much different story. Not only due to school shootings, but in technology. They also thought the aftermath would have been HUGELY different. Mainly that the story would have been all over the news and media would have been heavily involved in relaying what happened. None of them felt she could have escaped from her old life as easy as she did.

What did you think about the parallels between Emily Beam and Emily Dickinson?

Some really liked the parallels, especially when it came to the seclusion and the way Emily Beam mimicked Dickinson in order to heal. However, many thought they were way too similar and that they author was trying too hard.

What did you think about Paul and Emily’s relationship?

They all agreed it was a very abusive relationship. They felt like Paul peer pressured Emily into things she didn’t want to do. And that he was controlling, obsessive, clingy, and emotional unstable. The teens believed that Paul and Emily thought they loved each other, but it was obvious in the end that they didn’t.

What do you think of K.T.? Do you think her letting Emily know about her friend’s suicide would have helped?

Most of them thought that K.T. was the best character. However, they felt her character needed more and that she was a bit flat. They all agreed that it took a while to warm up to her as well. They weren’t sure if they could trust her at first. They also wished that she would have told Emily about her friend’s suicide much sooner. They believed it would have built a relationship where they connected more and would have helped Emily heal sooner.

Thoughts on Paul’s suicide?
The teens felt like this scene proved how unstable he was. However, they did not feel as if he planned it. With the discovery by the teacher, it was obvious he felt trapped and had nothing left. There was also some talk on it being more of an accident than suicide.

Do you think the story would have played out differently if Paul’s parents had known about the baby?
This was a resounding yes from all the teens. They believed it would have been much worse for Emily and that Paul’s parents would have had a reason to blame her for this death. However, it would have also given them a reason to watch Paul and maybe stop the shooting from ever happening. They also tossed around the thought they his parents may have stopped the abortion from every happening.

Do you think Emily’s poem will win the competition? Do you think if it’s published it will hurt or help Emily’s healing process?

The general thought was that Emily’s poem would win the competition. They were a bit torn on if it would hurt or help Emily and saw it more as a both thing than an either or. The teens thought it would help people fully understand what she was going through. On the other hand, it would hurt because everyone would indeed know and she may have to relive the experience the over and over again.

Memorable Scenes

  • They all thought the scene where she’s in Emily Dickinson’s house is very weird. I’m pretty sure they were all just like WTF!
  • They all loved the dinner she had with her roommate and their one teacher/house mother. They felt it showed Emily different and what she may have been like before/what she could be again once she healed.

Final thoughts

They all felt like this books description was rather misleading. When they read it was about a school shooting, they thought it would be more along the the lines of an actually lock-down school shooting type scenario and the aftermath of living through that traumatic experience. Instead, they got something that was much more quiet with less action. I do wonder if this preconceived idea didn’t make them like the book less than if they hadn’t known anything about it.

 

Program 4-1-1

  • When: April 24th, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
  • How Many Teens: 11 teens;  ranging from Grade 8 – 10

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