Sixth-grader Emily Davis, destined to be a poet like her namesake, discovers that she can help the hand of fate.
Emily doesn’t like poetry very much. She’d rather be a different kind of writer. Her single mother chose her name from a book she’d purchased the day before Emily’s birth. Alongside Emily Dickinson’s poems, she wrote important happenings from her daughter’s life. But the very day Emily learns that one of those notes contains her father’s name, the book accidentally goes to Goodwill. Her efforts to find it again and learn her father’s name serve as the scaffolding for this first-person coming-of-age story set in Berkeley, Calif., during the 2006-08 oak grove controversy. Longing to complete her family, Emily actually practices composing happy endings for romance novels. With the help of best friend, Wavey St. Clair, and soldier-wannabe cousin Mortie, she haunts used bookstores. Some surprising coincidences and her new practice of doing the unexpected—to leave room for chance—lead to a very happy ending indeed. There’s a proto-romance with classmate Connor Kelly, attention paid to environmental issues and some interesting poetry, but the focus is squarely on Emily’s growing self-determination. Emotionally, her story rings true.
Readers will applaud Emily’s newfound understanding of the workings of destiny and might even follow her lead. (Fiction. 9-13)