Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

(Photo taken from Goodreads)

Title:  I, Emma Freke
Author:  Elizabeth Atkinson
Publisher:  Lerner Publishing Group
Publication Date:  11/1/2010 
Language: English
Format:  Digital copy
Pages:  234 pages
ISBN-10:  0761356045 Hardback
ISBN-13:  978-0761356042 Hardback
Source:  Advanced reader's digital copy from Lerner Publishing Group, via NetGalley

This book made me laugh from the first mention of 'I, Emma Freke' up until its last pages.  The childish way of storytelling and the way that the main character, Emma, claims to be an adult is endearing, funny, and hit very close to home.  I mean, who has never experienced being out of place and thinking that being an adult is way cooler than remaining a kid/teenager?  Ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it from I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson. 

Summary from NetGalley:

"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 façade. 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 can so relate with Emma.  Maybe not with the name, although I do have some issues with mine (my real full name sounds to me like a character from a Spanish television series), but with the appearance.  I used to be the tallest girl in class in my late elementary and high school days.  Everyone would look strangely at me, and everyone asked me if I play some sport or another.  They always seem to think I'm playing volleyball or basketball so when I tell them I'm not really interested in sports, they say the same thing every time:  "Too bad, your height will make you a star."  As if not being a very good athlete won't affect my playing in any way.  When joining clubs, other people always think that just because I'm taller than everyone else (yes, including most guys) makes me more mature and smart and they all want me to head one club after another, forgetting that running one club precludes you from heading another (I was editor-in-chief of the school paper, and they all want me to be president of the Science Club even if I'm not that much of a Science geek, the Drama Club even if I was only there once, and other clubs I don't even have interest in).  It also sort of affects the 'making friends' part because teenagers are almost always intimidated by my height, and their first impression of me is always 'bitchy' or 'snobbish' even if I'm none of those things.  For Emma, most of the above are true, but kids her age tend to think they are 'above' her, or that she's not very important, and  I can totally say that she is partly to blame because she herself tends to hide inside her shell when confronted by other teenagers.  She doesn't give others a chance, immediately assuming that they are just laughing at her, and that they don't like her.  She never even gave being sociable a try.  And, already aware that her name sounds funny, she even adds to its ridicule by saying "My mom forgot to say it out loud when I was born."  Can't she just stop making a big deal out of it?  Stevie had it spot on when she said that "names and words only hurt if you let them."  But then, with Emma's lack of self-esteem and real maturity, I guess that's predictable.

This book was a cute tongue-in-cheek story of a typical egocentric teenager's dilemma:  Not fitting it, feeling like they don't belong.  There's really nothing new in here, except maybe for the Freke family reunion that showed a bunch of people acting like sheep and going with the herd.  Emma was placed in two extremes:  Her independent and indifferent life with her mother, and the structured, organized, and freakishly collective life with the Freke family.  Somehow it's like saying that the grass is greener on the other side, only to find that it's just the same.  Hopefully, these two extremes would help Emma choose her own path and her own spot on the grass.  But however cute and light and very readable this story is, it's not entirely new and there is a large array of young adult fiction books devoted to this kind of issue.  But then again, this is not a contest to see which book is best, and I can say that, for this book's part, it certainly made the grade.  I loved the plot, the voice, and the characters are thoroughly detailed they are virtually human.  I really enjoyed the humorous description of Emma's life, and there are some really laugh-out-loud moments that some 'teenage issues' books do not have.  There were some parts that I felt was hurried, especially towards the ending, and I thought it would have been better if another twist was added or another chapter was written to make the story come full circle, but I guess it's for the best to leave the story at that, and let the reader think for themselves.  Although the storyline is quite light, it still never fails to elicit empathy for Emma, as well as for teenagers like her who have difficulty fitting it.  It makes the reader see this 'shallow' crisis through the sufferer's eyes and not just giving a story of hope and inspiration, it also teaches them how to treat these young adults well.

This book was just released November of last year, and I urge you to go get a copy of this one.  You won't regret reading and re-reading this book.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher, Lerner Publishing Group and Netgalley, in exchange for an honest and truthful review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. This cover is amazing !! Thanks for your review !! Happy reading ;)

  2. Thank you! You should read this one!

  3. I enjoyed this book as well. Super fun and touching ;)

  4. I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds really good! I had the opposite problem growing up b/c I am very short! I'm only 5ft tall. Friends are always telling me that I'll appreciate how young I look when I'm older, but when you look as young as I do, people treat you differently. It's also really hard to find pants that fit! :oP

  5. Mia: I agree. It's really a nice read!

    Laura: It's really difficult to be on the extremes of the height spectrum, either you're too short or too tall, you would be treated differently and pants and dresses do not fit perfectly. What a bummer!


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