Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Destiny, Rewritten

Destiny, Rewritten

Kathryn Fitzmaurice
For ages 9 and up
HarperCollins, 2013   ISBN: 978-0061625015

The day before her baby daughter is to born, Isabella goes to a second hand bookshop where she hopes she will be able find a name for her child. She is looking for a name that will set her daughter’s “life direction.” After discarding Juliet as too tragic a name, Isabella finds a copy of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, and she knows in her heart that she has found what she is looking for. Her baby will be called Emily, and she will grow up to be a poet.

Emily is now eleven years old and she really does not care for poetry, though she does try to. She has the copy of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson that her mother bought and it is Emily’s most treasured possession because her mother has made notes in the book to commemorate important days in Emily’s life. The book tells Emily’s story. Or at least most of it. Emily still has no idea who her father is. Isabella firmly believes that when the time is right Emily will know who her father is. The problem is that Emily does not feel like waiting for that moment, and what if it doesn’t even exist? Emily wants to know who her father is now and she is stunned when her mother finally tells her that her father’s name is written in Emily’s precious copy of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.

Emily runs to get her book only to find out that it got mixed up in a donation for Goodwill. The book is gone. Emily can hardly believe that her book, with all those wonderful notes from her mother, is gone forever. Emily’s mother believes that the book got lost because Emily wasn’t ready to find her father’s name. Isabella insists that things cannot be forced; they should be allowed to happen when they are supposed to happen, when they are destined to happen. Emily finds it hard to accept her mother’s take on destiny, and she wants to find that book no matter what it takes.

It ends up taking a lot. Emily and her mother go to the Goodwill store, but the book isn’t there. The person working at Goodwill tells them that the books are often picked over early by people buying books for bookstores. Now Emily is going to have search who knows how many book stores to find her book.

Desperate to find the book with her father’s name in it, Emily even goes so far as to set aside her rigidly organized and predictable way of doing things. She forces herself to be unpredictable, even when doing so pains her. She will do whatever it takes if there is a chance that she will find the book with its precious notes. She never expects that her journey will be full of surprises. As she tries to understand what is happening around her she will question who controls her destiny, and she will end up opening doors that she didn’t even know were there.

In this extraordinary book Kathryn Fitzmaurice explores the inner world of a young girl whose mother made a decision about her child’s future when that child was just an infant. It is quite remarkable to be able to see how Emily struggles to come to terms with the path her mother chose for her; a path that Emily does not feel is right for her. Emily’s voice, and the voices of the other characters in the book, are delightfully honest, genuine, and often sweetly funny, and readers will grow to love the quirky people who live in Emily’s world.

Though this book was written for younger readers, adults will get a lot out of reading it. They may even question the path they are on. It is a path that they are supposed to be following?