Eleven-year-old Emily Elizabeth Davis has been told for her entire life that her destiny is to become a poet, just like her famous namesake, Emily Dickinson. But Emily doesn't even really like poetry, and she has a secret career ambition that she suspects her English-professor mother will frown on. Then, just after discovering that it contains an important family secret, she loses the special volume of Emily Dickinson's poetry that was given to her at birth. As Emily and her friends search for the lost book in used bookstores and thrift shops all across town, Emily's understanding of destiny begins to unravel and then rewrite itself in a marvelous new way.
While there are side issues of young romance, the grieving process, friendship, and social activism, the main focus is on Emily's coming-of-age and our role in determining our own fate. Important topics are exlpored without becoming too heavy-handed, and even side characters are quirky enough to be memorable. Even at the very satisfying conclusion, readers will be unsure of whether to give the credit to twists of fate, or to Emily's determination. They may feel inspired, however, to take a greater hand in making good things come to themselves and those around them.
This is a solid upper-elementary, middle-grade choice. Thank-you to HarperCollins for the review copy!