A strong, gentle, smart and powerful book about suicide’s aftermath.
Emily Beam is no goody-goody. She breaks the rules of the Amherst School for Girls—a boarding school in Massachusetts where her parents have placed her after her boyfriend Paul’s suicide and her abortion—when she feels she needs to. But the rules are broken in the service of her agency. Emily is driven to write out her grief and horror (Paul shot himself in front of her in her former school’s library) in private poems she models after her inspiration, Emily Dickinson (another one-time Amherst resident). Teasing out strands of the past and the present, Hubbard masterfully twines together a story of one girl’s journey to self-identity. In past-tense flashbacks, readers learn the circumstances of Emily and Paul’s relationship, while the poems Emily writes in her present-day environment infuse those same circumstances with newly realized perceptions. The narrative switches to present tense when it relates Emily’s current life in boarding school, a fresh and unexplored world with emerging possibilities as well as potential pitfalls. The layered story evolves naturally as Emily’s creative courage first unravels and then reassembles her understanding of what has happened to her and what part she has played.
As graceful as a feather drifting down, this lyrical story delivers a deep journey of healing on a tragic theme. (Fiction. 14-18)