Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gun Violence in Literature - A Sign of the Times?

I've just read both In the Language of Miracles (review here) and Jenny Hubbard's And We Stay. Both books focus on those left behind in a tragedy, and a high school shooting tragedy in particular.

(Fun side note: Jenny Hubbard and I have the same alma mater, Meredith College, and she was an English major like me. You should follow her on Twitter: @hubbardwrites.)

I can't imagine how tough it would be on a girl like Emily, the main character in And We Stay, to witness her boyfriend's suicide in the school library, and within a few days she's been forced by her family to undergo an abortion and has been transported from her school where she knows everyone and where her support system is, to a private all-girls boarding school in another state. She's forced to figure out what about her story to tell and what to keep private. She's forced to make new friends, go to new classes and be away from her family. She's fortunate to land a roommate who respects her privacy and cares about Emily.

But most of this tragedy Emily must bear and sort through emotionally alone. She finds solace in her own poetry writing and that of Emily Dickinson, a former student at , now Amherst School for Girls in Amherst, Massachusetts. As it turns out, Emily Beam is a good poet on her own and is encouraged by her peers and one of her teachers to enter her work in a contest.

It's this support system who helps Emily dig out of her deepest despair, and by the end of the book we get the sense that she'll be OK. 

Our country has experienced some terrible gun violence in recent months. It's my hope that with time, love and support, those affected will all be OK just like Emily and the tragic family in In the Language of Miracles.

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