Review: Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl
Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl.
To be published: April 30, 2013.
Published by: Chronicle Books.
Source: Received in exchange for a fair and honest review from Raincoast Books. Thank you!
One day, fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson meets a mysterious, handsome young man. Surprisingly, he doesn't seem to know who she or her family is. And even more surprisingly, he playfully refuses to divulge his name. Emily enjoys her secret flirtation with Mr. "Nobody" until he turns up dead in her family's pond. She's stricken with guilt. Only Emily can discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he's condemned to be buried in an anonymous grave. Her investigation takes her deep into town secrets, blossoming romance, and deadly danger. Exquisitely written and meticulously researched, this novel celebrates Emily Dickinson's intellect and spunk in a page-turner of a book that will excite fans of mystery, romance, and poetry alike.
When I saw this one I was immediately interested. "A novel of intrigue and romance", says the cover; with a young Emily Dickinson and a murder mystery right at the middle? Definitely sounded like something I wanted to read! While I wouldn't really call it a novel of romance, there was intrigue for sure, and I loved seeing Emily Dickinson as such a curious and creative young adult.
I thought young Emily was a wonderful character and the picture painted of her seems like I was reading about the real woman. All of the quirks and curiosities you would expect a budding young poet to have, Emily displays naturally and eagerly. I loved how determined she was to solve the murder despite all the resistance she meets along the way. She's very intelligent and creative, and is ahead of her time, which really just made me root for her. As for the story, I thought the mystery was set up very well and kept me in the dark just long enough that I was trying to solve it right alongside Emily. It enjoyed seeing how all the side characters contributed to the journey Emily went through to fight for what she believed was right (as well as satisfying her own curiosity, of course).
What I found really interesting about this one is the way the historical setting was woven in through the characters. It wasn't an in-your-face kind of historical setting, but rather it came through in the actions and attitudes of the people. Most especially, it came from Emily's mother. That woman is so completely of her time that I found her a little infuriating. She is what women were expected to be: a fragile home-maker and mother, and she expected her daughters to be just the same way. Emily, of course, wants so much more than that for herself. She can't stand the dull chores or being confined to the house. She wants to explore outside and have new experiences that she can use as inspiration for her writing. Her mother strongly resists this, and so when Emily tries to solve the murder mystery, her mother absolutely gets in the way. Not only was this a refreshing case of a present and responsible parent in YA (which seems to be missing fairly often these days), but it was also a wonderful contrast of generations during a time when specific social rules were expected to be adhered to.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable novel with a mystery I was genuinely interested in following and an easy-to-love new perspective on Emily Dickinson. Absolutely worth the time to read it.