by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
From Publishers Weekly, week of February 4, 2013
Fitzmaurice (A Diamond in the Desert) explores fate and destiny with a light yet thoughtful touch in this novel about sixth-grader Emily, named by her free-spirit mother after Emily Dickinson. Emily’s mother is sure that her daughter’s destiny is tied to the famous writer’s and that she will be a great poet (she even commemorates the important moments of Emily’s life in a first edition of Dickinson’s poetry). Emily, however, thrives on predictability and order, and has no feel for poetry – though she is obsessed with romantic novels’ happy endings, since she is searching for one: finding her unknown father, whose identity her mother has never disclosed. Just as Emily learns his name is hidden in the Dickinson book, it is accidentally taken and Emily sets out to find it, challenging her mother’s belief that things should “unfold in their natural course.” Aptly set amid the hippie ambiance of Berkeley, Calif., and peopled by offbeat, but believable characters, Fitzmaurice’s story deftly mingles Dickinson, Danielle Steel, a budding crush, and protesting tree sitters while maintaining suspense that leads to a satisfying ending. Ages 9-12.