It’s always a gamble when an author you’ve liked in the past goes someplace you don’t usually go, right? Robin McKinley’s Sunshine is perhaps the best example of this I can think of; I had to start it twice before I got into it, because I just don’t usually do vampire novels. On the other hand, once I was truly into it, it did captivate me in the way that only Robin McKinley can, which is impressive. (A warning, though–it’s not YA, or at least, it’s not my definition of it. There are 3 or 4 sexually explicit references. We’re talking maybe a sentence or two long each time, but still.) Eileen Spinelli’s Another Day As Emily wasn’t so much a departure from her usual style, but–like Sunshine–it went somewhere I don’t usually opt to go. The Emily in the title is Emily Dickinson, a poet I give credit to (because really, I think the line ‘because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me’ is kind of incredible) but don’t necessarily love. (I admit, a lot of my problem is the dashes. I respect her right to them as a writer–I was actually appalled at a published book of her poems that took them out–but they bug me. I’d rather read Robert Frost.) The narrator is going through a rough patch, in a very normal 12-year-old way, and decides to call herself Emily, acting out the famous poet’s life of isolation from the world. Reading about the poet herself isn’t something I would prefer to do; there are a few too many people I care about who struggle with anxiety for that to be terribly enjoyable. On the other hand, reading about a girl who tries to deal with problems by identifying with a famous writer for a time? That I could do. (I might still not have opted for it, except that it’s a verse novel. It’s easier to gamble on a book that isn’t going to take much time to read.)
AND–to make a long story short (too late!)–I was glad I did. Spinelli’s poetry is less lyrical and more comfortable (I enjoy both, but the two certainly have different feels), which makes it really easy to identify with Suzy. Her family and friends are all likable people, and yet you can see how she’s feeling the need to remove herself for a while. How she connects with her world again is an enjoyable story that can easily be read in an hour or so, making it well worth your time. Give this one a try today!
And, in honor of Emily: