This richly satisfying tale of first and last love transcends its genre—not another breathless, fan-fiction take on a literary classic but an intertextual love letter.
Raised by a distant father and ex-debutante stepmother, shy, bookish Emma misses the mother she barely remembers. At Emma’s 16th birthday party, her mother’s college roommate, Simona, gives her a copy of Jane Eyre. Emma finds Simona’s son, Gray, disturbingly attractive, but he dates an A-list girl at Lockwood, the boarding school Emma, a scholarship student, attends. The alliance she forges with her new roommate—fellow scholarship student and Haitian science whiz Michelle—heartens both until, struck by lightning, Emma wakes up to find herself Jane Eyre. Though her world is comforting at first, Mr. Rochester’s controlling ways trouble Emma, who feels deepening compassion for Bertha Mason. (Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea is clearly a referent here.) She fights her way home, but unresolved issues and mysteries, especially the connection between Jane’s world and Emma’s mother, draw her back. With evocative settings and compassionately drawn characters, this trilogy opener offers affectionate insight into the gifts literature gives readers. If treasured books have the power to change us, it’s a two-way street. As we change, so does our relationship to those books and so, in a sense, we change them.
A smart and rewarding ode to literature. (Fantasy. 12 & up)