Printz Award Honor Book

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Emily Beam has been shipped off to boarding school in the middle of her junior year. Rumors abound as to why, but the truth is sadder and darker than any of the gossiping girls imagine.

Emily’s ex-boyfriend brought a gun to school and shot himself. Emily had just broken up with him the evening before. She was pregnant and wanted an abortion, but he wanted to keep the baby. In his despair, confusion, and anger, he put the gun in his backpack and lives were forever changed.

After his funeral and her abortion, Emily feels lost, alone, and terribly guilty. Her family puts her into boarding school in Amherst, Massachusetts, just streets away from where Emily Dickinson lived. Like her namesake, Emily works through her pain, guilt and grief through poetry. Her poems are sprinkled throughout the book, helping bring her past and inner turmoil to light.

This is a story of despair and hope, depicting the sorrow and healing process of those who are touched by the tragedy of a suicide. I pulled for Emily, felt pain for her situation and sadness at some of her decisions. I wanted to reach through the pages, yank the cigarette from her lips, dump her ever-present coffee down the sink, and make her see the value of her life and her poetry. And when she finally did find peace, I felt relief and happiness for this girl who had come to mean more to me than just a character in a book.

And We Stay is one of this year’s Michael L. Printz Honor Books for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. It is a poignant story that I would certainly recommend to a teen girl…or an adult woman.

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