And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The MC has a way with words: how she translates her own experience and her own emotion into specific well-measured lines of poetry without taking away from the impact and perhaps even making their meaning stronger. I’m surprised, for normally, my eyes would have been glazing over with the one two punch combo of poetry and the third person POV... except: surprise! I sped through this.
Her revealing her past in poem form combined with that third person point of view of what was going on should have rendered me unconscious. Except it’s both those things that were surprisingly effective: there’s balance reached between the two. On one hand: it’s personal, the poetry got. Each bit has her experience clearly been translated; the measured stanzas trimmed it all down to the most basic of words, chosen quite effectively so that their impact is made stronger. Then on the other: the third person that kept things from becoming too-in-her-head.
The poems are of her PAST and they punctuate each chapter that details her NOW; so that there’s this clever switch from now and then: One moment we’re told about her now BUT wait a beat, and it’s the MC revealing little bit by little bit her What-was. And her ‘now’? It’s another after- loss tale, except so much broader than initially thought; so that it’s not just about LOSS. It’s also about finding something NEW and all right: facing up to and making confirmations of some big things forgotten.
The biggest positive: it’s cleverly written. Still, there is this one thing I don’t quite get; a specific aspect I thought pivotal at first, but later becoming superfluous. There are all those parallels pointed out between the lead and her namesake; seemingly important given where she found herself and what she wanted to become (‘I’m a poet/ I’m not a poet’) BUT really? Given everything that’s told and how they’re told, it’s a parallel that became pointless. Sure there are similarities (e.g. on both their questions of faith as well as the MC’s ambition etc..) but all that felt superficial and pointless. I mean so what if she was in the same school? So what if they both had similar outlooks on faith? So what?
Not to say that those cancel out the good in reading this… because I am still pleasantly surprised by how those TWO things (poems and third person) that in the past I knew I disliked were put to use here, almost balancing each other out.
Thank you, NG!
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