Monday, December 20, 2010

review: I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

pub date: August 1, 2010
publisher: Carolrhoda Books
pgs: 240
source: netgalley
audience: middle grade book, ten and up
genre: comtemporary realistic fiction

blurb from goodreads:
"I, Emma Freke, am not a freak. Or maybe I am. I just don't know."

What's in a name? I, Emma Freke is a charming search-for-identity story about Emma―the only "normal" member of her quirky family. Her flighty, New Age mom seems to barely have time for a daughter, especially one who annoyingly spoils her mom's youthful fa├žade. Emma's well-meaning grandpa is clueless. And her only friends are the local librarian and a precocious 10-year old adopted by the two old ladies next door.

Smart, shy, and nearly six feet tall, Emma struggles to fit in at school, so she jumps at the opportunity to "home school" until that too turns into another of mom's half-baked ideas. The real crisis comes when she gets an invitation to The Freke Family Reunion, and her fellow Frekes aren't at all what she expects. While Emma desperately tries to find her niche, she discovers that perhaps it's better to be her own "freak" than someone else's Freke.

I don't read middle grade books often, they just don't appeal to me. I get bored. When I requested this from netgalley I didn't catch that Emma was only 12. But once I had the book, I felt an obligation to read it. Wow, am I glad I did.

I really enjoyed I, Emma Freke and wasn't bored at all. Mostly because of the wonderful characters Elizabeth Atkinson wrote. They were fun. Emma was a gem. I liked seeing her world through her voice. Emma grows a lot through the book, from being shy and insecure, to finding that she's great the way she is. She finds her voice and speaks up for what she believes to be right. And because of the change in herself, Emma's able to change the people around her.

Emma's best friend, Penelope, is quite a character. As are Emma's Freke family members, all the aunts and uncles and cousins. They were all great, especially Fred Freke. I liked him.

As a librarian, I found it interesting that a librarian volunteered to homeschool Emma for three weeks at the library, while working at the reference desk. It seemed she was the only librarian that worked at the time, too. Which is unrealistic in my opinion, but maybe not. Maybe other librarians would find it possible to do? It didn't destract from the story. Just a little observation.  

This is a really fun book.

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