Emily Stone doesn’t get close to anyone: Those she has loved have ended up dead.
Teenage Emily—named for her mother’s favorite poet, Emily Dickinson—has found refuge at the Hawthorne Academy for Independent Young Women, where she has made it a point to remain aloof from other students, being rude and condescending whenever anyone speaks to her. It’s the only way to keep them safe. Emily immerses herself in her independent study of Dickinson; after all, it’s safe to love a dead poet. After a man’s body is found on school grounds, Emily goes into a tailspin. She didn’t know him. Is his death a coincidence? Is it inevitable that death follows her wherever she goes? When Emily meets another student named Emily, who goes by M, she can’t resist this smart-mouthed, charismatic, saint-obsessed artist. Knowing what she knows now, can she let M in and keep her safe? Or is she better off pushing M away? From the start, Emily lets readers know she’s an unreliable narrator. The story is told through Emily’s undated diary entries, each of which is prefaced with a snippet of related work from Dickinson. As the story progresses and Emily feels like she’s losing control, the entries appear out of order, adding to the sense that nothing is OK. Only one student of color is called out; all other characters are white.
Wonderfully eerie and disorienting. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)