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A VOICE OF HER OWN by Barbara Dana Kirkus Star


Becoming Emily Dickinson

by Barbara Dana

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-028704-7
Publisher: HarperTeen

Long recognized as a great American poet, Emily Dickinson the woman remains a mystery. The known information is full of contradictions. Her attorney father believed in educating girls but ruled the household with an iron hand. Even so, Emily found the courage to hold fast to her unique personal and religious convictions and to pursue her literary calling. She clung to home and family, in variable physical and mental health, becoming increasingly reclusive. Yet she maintained lifelong intellectually vigorous and passionate friendships by correspondence. In this fictionalized autobiography, never less than persuasive and compelling, Dana uses Dickinson’s vocabulary, syntax and ideas to craft a portrait of a gifted adolescent moving through puberty into womanhood. Watching Emily rejoice in her dawning creative powers and struggle with her anxieties and fear of death, readers sense that her genius is inextricably bound to both. The author describes years of research on Emily’s world in her afterword and bibliography, and the world readers are immersed in feels utterly authentic. The result does full justice to its complex, challenging subject who, like this novel, was sui generis. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)