LEAVING EMMA by Nancy Steele Brokaw


Age Range: 9 - 12
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The first chapter of this well-written novel may be the best, attracting readers to the story of an only child whose special friend Tem is moving away. In addition to the blow of losing her close friend, Emma learns that her father has taken an engineering job in Turkey, and will be gone for five months. Emma exhibits fiercely childish feelings in attempting to dissuade her father; these feelings begin to make sense, however, as readers learn what Emma is in for. Her mother withdraws, as Emma predicted, to her bed and to television, with no apparent thought for Emma’s well-being. A sudden burst of cheer on her mother’s part results in more bad news for Emma; her mother is joining her father for five weeks, leaving Emma in the care of an elderly aunt. After that unbelievable, cruel twist, Tem all but disappears from the story, which turns to the blossoming of Emma’s artistic talents, through which she makes new friends. The novel elevates a common subject, mostly through Emma’s original observations, and despite the plotting. Although Brokaw drifts into the mundane in order to see Emma’s dilemmas to a conclusion, she often surprises readers with a well-turned phrase. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: April 19th, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-90699-7
Page count: 157pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1999