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Kathryn Fitzmaurice (The Year the Swallows Came Early) creates another memorable 11-year-old grappling with her identity and her passions.

Synopsis:
Emily Elizabeth Davis lives with her mother, aunt and cousin in the heart of Berkeley, Calif., where everybody knows everybody. Her mother named her for Emily Dickinson, but Emily prefers romance novels to poetry. She's read almost half of Danielle Steel's books, and copies down the happy endings of each of them.
Fitzmaurice portrays a strong bond between mother and daughter, and chronicles the tension that develops between them over her mother's aspirations for Emily versus Emily's own interests, and Emily's growing resentment of her mother's caginess about the identity of Emily's father. The woman inscribes a first edition of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson to Emily: "Emily Dickinson is one of the great poets. The same will be said of you one day." Rather than keeping a photo album for Emily, she records each milestone of Emily's life next to a poem that ties in; "the road map of your life," she calls it. She wrote Emily's birth weight and height in the margins of "Angels, in the early morning," and recorded the date of her first steps next to "I'll tell you how the Sun rose." Just after Emily learns that her mother wrote her father's name in the margins of the Dickinson poetry book, the heroine inadvertently places it on top of some donation boxes. Suddenly the road map to Emily's life is gone. For the balance of the novel, she searches the town to find the volume.
Besides confiding in Danielle Steel through letters, Emily also has a best friend, Wavey St. Clair. Wavey is so loyal, she compromises her perfect attendance record to help Emily search for her book. Fitzmaurice possesses a perfect ear for dialogue when it comes to conversations between the sixth graders.
Emily grapples with whether destiny truly does rule her life, or whether, "if you do something every once in a while that's unexpected,... it might change the way you are." Emily's search for her book, her internal debate about destiny and the ways in which the heroine makes small changes in her life all come together into a moving climax. Emily comes to realize that sometimes the answer you needed was right there all the time. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: As 11-year-old Emily sets out to solve the mystery of her book's whereabouts and her father's identity, she realizes these will not tell her who she is; she must discover that for herself.

Released on: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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