Photo credit: Audie England
Eleven-year-old Emily Elizabeth Davis wants to write romance, like her favorite author, Danielle Steele. Her mother wants her to be a poet, like her namesake, Emily Dickinson. Her mother likes to play things by ear; Emily likes to plan. The heroine also wants to find out who her father is. But his identity is hidden in the pages of a poetry book by Dickinson, which the heroine mistakenly put in the donation pile. She searches all over her hometown of Berkeley, Cal., for the book. But sometimes the facts of our circumstances do not tell us as much about ourselves as our hearts do. That's what Emily has to figure out.
One entertaining part of the book results from an assignment by Mrs. Mendoza, Emily's English teacher, who asks them each to write "a wonderful, elegant haiku," then tells them to turn to someone close by and try talking in syllables of five-seven-five "to get the hang of it." Connor, Emily's crush, turns to Emily. One of his goes like this: "Okay, how about/ Lacrosse is like branches in/ A fierce windstorm." Emily points out that he needs one more syllable in the last line, so Connor comes up with substituting "A violent storm" for "A fierce windstorm."
Their exchanges convey how naturally haiku grows out of conversation, and also how Emily's attention piques when the promise of romance draws near. Poetry and romance. Must Emily choose? Maybe there's enough of both to go around.