Summary: Sixth-grader Emily Elizabeth Davis was named by her English professor mother for the poet Emily Dickinson. Although her mother has told her time and again that it is her destiny to become a famous poet, Emily has two burning desires of her own: to become a romance novelist, and to find out who her father is. Life gets even more complicated when the special volume of Emily Dickinson’s poetry that was presented to Emily at her birth is accidentally given away, just as Emily learns that her mother has written her father’s name somewhere in the book. Thus begins Emily’s journey to used-book stores all over her neighborhood of Berkley, California, as well as her inner journey to attempt to understand how the concepts of destiny, fate, free will, and connections with others form her life’s philosophy and identity.
Review: “I keep wondering if my destiny is planned out already like my mother says it is. And if it is, am I able to change things by what I do…? Or is the whole thing up to me, and every day, by the choices I make, I form my own destiny?” This is the central theme of Destiny, Rewritten, as spoken by the main character, eleven year old Emily Elizabeth Davis. While I applaud author Kathryn Fitzmaurice for addressing this rather heavy, yet important, material, I am not convinced that her target audience of 3rd-7th graders will absorb quite as much of the spiritual nature of the topic as she might hope. The philosophical impact of Emily’s search for her lost keepsake will likely go over the heads of the youngest audience, while older readers will likely not identify with a 6th grader who hasn’t outgrown collecting decoder rings from boxes of Cheerios and who still makes a point of not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. The story also produced a mental “clang” for this reader when Emily’s hippie, Zen, never-wed mother sends Emily to religion class at the local Catholic church. However, for anyone who might like to begin a philosophical discussion about destiny and fate with 4th or 5th graders, this book contains enough action, suspense, and likeable characters to sustain interest while introducing a very complicated concept.
Read-a-likes: Penny From Heaven by Jennifer Holm (Hardcover Juvenile Fiction and ebook); Seekers series by Erin Hunter (Hardcover Juvenile Fiction); Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean (Hardcover Juvenile Fiction, ebook and eaudiobook).
Availability: This book is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library’s Juvenile Fiction collection.
Reviewed by: Regina