From School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Claire and her father have recently moved to Amherst, Massachusetts, in the hope of starting a new life and putting the tragic events of the past behind them. Claire is grieving the death of her mother and the loss of her friend who went missing without a trace and is having trouble moving on. She finds comfort in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and senses her mother's presence in the Dickinson house museum, especially by putting on Emily's dress. When she is discovered wearing it, she is forced to run, leading to an adventure that helps her work through her grief, solve the mystery of her missing friend, and begin to look to the future. Written in first person, the story integrates the poetry of Emily Dickinson with the writings of the main character, which leads to a novel that is lyrical and refreshing in spite of the tragic events. Missing persons and suicide are dealt with in a delicate way, allowing readers to enjoy the action and suspense. Older, more advanced readers will appreciate the imagery, irony, and wit as well.-Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SDα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Claire thinks it is grotesque that Emily Dickinson’s dress is displayed at the poet’s homestead museum in Amherst. But she feels close to her deceased mother there, and she sneaks into the museum at night to write sparse lines, often reflecting on her mother’s suicide. Sometimes she even puts on the dress. Tate, a former student teacher of Claire’s who is attuned to her pain, interrupts her ritual one night, and when the alarm sounds, they flee with the dress. That’s how Tate begins acting as Claire’s protector—but he slowly and innocently grows to be much more as Claire shares with him what else is missing. Amherst is Claire’s second senior year, her first having been disrupted by her best friend Richy’s disappearance, for which Claire was a person of interest. It’s what is missing from this superb debut novel that makes it so rich. Like Dickinson’s poems, the first-person narration doesn’t worry about stage direction or backstory, preferring to highlight poignant moments that elicit emotion or deepen character, and challenging the reader to fill in the blanks and read between the lines of Claire’s writing, conversations, and musings. What remains at the end is a complete portrait of loss, longing, redemption, and love. Grades 9-12. --Heather Booth