A Thought-Provoking and Thoroughly Pleasing Read
by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Publication Date: February 19, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Eleven-year-old Emily Elizabeth Davis has been told for her entire life that her destiny is to become a poet, just like her famous namesake, Emily Dickinson. But Emily doesn’t even really like poetry, and she has a secret career ambition that she suspects her English-professor mother will frown on. Then, just after discovering that it contains an important family secret, she loses the special volume of Emily Dickinson’s poetry that was given to her at birth. As Emily and her friends search for the lost book in used bookstores and thrift shops all across town, Emily’s understanding of destiny begins to unravel and then rewrite itself in a marvelous new way.
In her third novel, Kathryn Fitzmaurice again weaves a richly textured story about unexpected connections, about the stories that shape our lives, and about the most perfect kinds of happy endings: those that happen just on time.
What an absorbing, soothing, and yet intellectually stimulating book! Instead of simply feeling good at novel’s end, as is usually the case, I felt a lightness of heart throughout every page of Destiny, Rewritten. The characters are real, and are relatively sensible and actually nice — a welcome change from kids books populated by mean girls and overbearing or wacky teachers and parents, and brimming with conflict and middle school angst.
Our heroine, Emily, is smart, personable, and on a mission to change her destiny. Along the way she deals with a precocious, and generally amusing, little cousin, and a slightly flighty mom whose definition of destiny is to just let life happen. She sorts things out on her journey by writing letters to her literary idol, Danielle Steel, and she is buttressed by the undying support of Wavey, a true best friend. I especially liked the occasional rapid-fire exchanges between Emily and Wavey which sound authentic and alive. The growing friendship and respect between Emily and Cecily Ann is another happy aspect of the book, as is the budding romance between — oops, no spoilers. I was glad to see the author not shying away from having Emily investigate both ends of the religious spectrum as she tries to understand the concept of destiny: the true believer (Father Patrick) and the superstitious palm reader.
The narrative voice is near perfect for an intelligent eleven-year-old, being neither too flowery nor too prosaic. The plot is different and intriguing, and even though the reader pretty much knows how things will wind up, there are details to consider, there are twists and surprises, and there’s a rush of suspense near the end. Frankly, unless you’re offended by the touches of religion, there’s nothing to dislike about the book. And on that subject, I applaud Ms. Fitzmaurice for the final sentence of her acknowledgements, a statement few authors have the nerve to make.
— Jennifer Michelle
4.5 of 5 Hearts. A Thought-Provoking and Thoroughly Pleasing Read.
Destiny, Rewritten proves that a children’s novel doesn’t have to be edgy in prose, character, or plot to be interesting, enjoyable, and satisfying. And it made me finally get around to buying a copy of Emily Dickinson’s complete poems. For that, I am very grateful!