By Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Expected publication February 19, 2013 by Katharine Tegen Books
Emily Elizabeth Davis was named for a poet. She's heard the story probably a million times - her mother was inspired to name her after Emily Dickinson, and she believes that Emily's destiny is to be a famous poet as well. Emily herself is not so sure - poetry seems a little fussy. She might like romance novels better. But what she's most concerned about is knowing who her father is - is it her destiny to find him again?
I requested an e-galley of this title on my quest to read more tween books. I liked the cover art (judge me, it's okay) and I thought the book could be an interesting exploration of what destiny might mean to an 11-year-old. What I mostly feel after finishing this book is underwhelmed. Let me talk about the good first. Emily has a very distinct voice - I love her fixation on romance novels and I can almost hear her rolling her eyes at her mother's pontifications on destiny. I appreciated her earnest quest to discover what destiny really means - do we control it ourselves? Is it all planned for us ahead of time? These are questions that many people struggle with and, as a tween, may be among the most serious things you think about. I like that she consulted a variety of experts in her quest and how she was willing to take chances in an attempt to change her destiny. I like the happily ever after ending (really? who doesn't?) and how a series of seeming coincidences lead to it. What I feel underwhelmed with is the story as a whole - maybe I just don't get it because I'm not a mother, but I found Emily's mom a bit unreasonable about revealing the identity of her father. She was a bit too out there for me. The short chapters are good for keeping the story moving along, but they also felt a bit too short at times. A lot of the dialogue felt too forced and the writing didn't quite flow for me. Overall, everything just felt a bit too stilted for this book to really work for me. Is it appealing to kids? I think so - tweens are often just starting to ask the big questions about things like destiny and who they will turn out to be. But, for me, it just didn't quite grab me.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy provided via Edelweiss.