Loft Blog
And We Stay / By Jenny Hubbard PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 21 April 2014 17:50

titleAfter her boyfriend, Paul, kills himself in the school library, 17-year old Emily Beam transfers to Amherst School for Girls, an elite boarding school for the privileged where nobody knows her tale. Amherst is where Emily Dickinson lived - the house where she wrote her nearly 2,000 poems still stands today - and her spirit speaks to many who visit the town. That's important because Emily Beam, alone and wracked by grief, desperately needs spiritual and emotional help from somewhere. Emily is so full of unexpressed trauma, loss, and confusing feelings - horror at Paul's violent suicide (which he committed in front of her), scouring pain because she blames herself, and an aching wound from the love she still feels for him - that poetry becomes her lifeline. She spends night after night reading Dickinson's poetry in the school "lieberry" (it isn't a library because a library is where Paul took his life) and writing beautiful, searching poems.

Paul’s death has created a deep-seated need for poetry in Emily, a need for metaphor, and the more she lets the "poems roll in," the more she approaches the truth of what happened between them. 

Jenny Hubbard's And We Stay is an incredibly powerful book. Seamless, beautifully crafted transitions from Emily Beam's present into her unquiet past guide readers and give And We Stay a dream-like feel, as though Emily's past is always there on the edge of her consciousness, pleading to be understood. Emily Beam's poems, offered to the reader throughout, have deep meaning and are perfectly placed. Hubbard understands how the mind and the heart work to process hurt and how staggeringly difficult the struggle to understand the truth after horrible experiences can be. 

As Emily settles into her new school, she slowly builds a friendship with her roommate, K.T., who has darkness in her past, too, and she gains a kind of mentor in her French teacher, who recognizes her talent. Hope builds, the past becomes clearer. A crucial, nail-biting turning point in the book occurs when Emily sneaks into Emily Dickinson's house after hours, desperate for a connection to the poet, hoping to touch her spirit. As she wanders into the room where Dickinson wrote her poems, alone and in the twilit dark, the memories rush through Emily fast, shifting from present to past like silent, ceaselessly crashing ghost waves. Powerful.

And We Stay is a poetic, tragic book that would make an excellent choice for National Poetry Month - or any month. It is a book for anyone who has experienced a relationship and hurt so intense, it feels like something Emily Dickinson could have written about. A book for anyone who has gotten through the hurt with the help of art - and witnessed, finally, hope. Gr. 9 & up.

Readalikes: Paper Covers Rock, The Impossible Knife of Memory, Lindsey Lost, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.

(Jarrett, The Loft)


From Teens For Teens: Spanking Shakespeare / Jake Wizner and Bounce / Natasha Friend PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 18 April 2014 00:00


Spanking ShakespeareSpanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner

5/5 stars


I think that Jake Wizner did a great job describing high school and explaining how if you get in with the wrong crowd it could really affect your life. I believe it was very well done.


(Sophia W., Evanston teen)







Bounce by Natasha Friend

3/5 stars


I think the author does a great job of describing the thoughts and feelings of a teenager. I liked the book, but it wasn't my favorite. In a way it was predictable, but predictable isn't really the right word. I'm not exactly sure how to say it, but basically it's about a girl named Evyn whose Dad decides to get remarried. If that isn't bad enough for Evyn, she learns that she is also moving to Boston to move in with her new stepmom, and her six new step-siblings. So that's where Evyn is, in a new house, in a new city, going to a new school, just wishing that things would go back to the way they were before.


(Piper B., Evanston teen)


Book Spine Poetry / Teen Advisory Board PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00

Poetry is everywhere! The Loft's Teen Advisory Board wrote these poems using book titles:



The hollow



Demon eyes

Angel fever









altIf you live like me

The taker

The marked




Dead to you

I know it's over

Fallout / Todd Strasser PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 14 April 2014 00:00

altIt’s the middle of the Cold War between Russia and the United States.  Tensions are at an all-time high and Russia has nuclear missiles aimed at the United States. War could break out at any moment.   In Fallout, a historical fiction book with a twist, that’s the world Scott, the narrator, finds himself in.  The twist happens in the first few pages, a nuclear bomb is dropped. Scott and his family rush to their fallout shelter in their back yard as fast as possible. Friends and neighbors are clamoring to be let in too, but there just isn’t room.  Only 10 people make it in.  With limited food, water, medical issues and no contact with the outside they have to wait out the blast and radiation. No one knows when it will be safe to open the metal door and what awaits them outside. 

Fallout alternates between high stress chapters in the fallout shelter and chapters detailing the events leading up to the bombing.  Scott’s trying to reconcile everything going in the world, like his dad’s decision to build a fallout shelter, while others think it’s a waste of time and the trials  of being a teen at the same time.  This is an excellent book, loosely based on some of Strasser’s own experiences and once you start you’re not going to want to put it down. 


(Renee, the Loft)

From Teens For Teens: We Are So Crashing Your Bar Mitzvah / Fiona Rosenbloom and Dark Lord: The Early Years / Jamie Thomson PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 April 2014 00:00

We Are So Crashing your Bar Mitzvah!We Are So Crashing Your Bar Mitzvah! by Fiona Rosenbloom

4/5 stars


Stacy comes home from her sleepaway camp thinking that she has become all cool and mature. She and one of her two best friends went to camp together. When they came home they thought they would fill in their third best friend on all the new fashion tips they had learned. Turns out their other best friend had become one of the popular girls. Stacy and Lydia are gonna have to work to get Kelly back.


(Ruth S., Evanston teen)



Dark Lord, the Early Years

Dark Lord: The Early Years by Jamie Thomson

5/5 stars


Dark Lord was the leader of the Dark Side until he fell into Earth. He became a boy named Dirk Lloyd.  He makes friends, gets good grades and soon he goes back to the Dark Side.


(Jamaari T., Evanston teen)






Book Spine Poetry / Teen Advisory Board PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 April 2014 00:00

The Arrow Finds Its MarkThe Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems edited by Georgia Heard 

Words gleaned from calendars, memos, road signs, book titles, and Facebook status updates make for surprisingly effective poems in this primer on found poetry. Susan Marie Swanson takes the dictionary definition of the word "light" and creates a lovely poem on understanding. Betty Edwards' instructional Drawing On Both Sides of the Brain becomes Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's "Artist's Advice," an inspirational call for the exploration of "everything and anything." The idea that anything can be a poem is liberating and will resonate with anyone who is intimidated by poetry.


Check out the Found Poems written by the Teen Advisory Board using the titles of books found in the Loft:  


I don't want to kill you


I am not a serial killer

Whatever doesn't kill you











If we kiss

Kiss me again




What Are You Reading? PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 00:00

Here's what teens at Nichols Middle School are reading:


Wolf Brother Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

6,000 years ago, twelve-year-old Torak and his guide, a wolf cub, set out on a dangerous journey to fulfill an oath the boy made to his dying father--to travel to the Mountain of the World Spirit to destroy a demon-possessed bear that threatens all the clans.



Treasure IslandTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

While going through the possessions of a deceased guest who owed them money, the mistress of the inn and her son find a treasure map that leads to a pirate fortune as well as great danger.




More Than This More Than This by Patrick Ness

A boy named Seth drowns, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What's going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.


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