Me and Emma [NOOK Book]

Overview




In many ways, Carrie Parker is like any other eight-year-old—playing make-believe, going to school, dreaming of faraway places. But even in her imagination, she can't pretend away the hardships of her impoverished North Carolina home or protect her younger sister, Emma.

As the big sister, Carrie is determined to do anything to keep Emma safe from a life of neglect and ...
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Me and Emma

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Overview




In many ways, Carrie Parker is like any other eight-year-old—playing make-believe, going to school, dreaming of faraway places. But even in her imagination, she can't pretend away the hardships of her impoverished North Carolina home or protect her younger sister, Emma.

As the big sister, Carrie is determined to do anything to keep Emma safe from a life of neglect and abuse at the hands of their drunken stepfather, Richard—abuse their momma can't seem to see, let alone stop.

But after the sisters' plan to run away from home unravels, Carrie's world takes a shocking turn—and one shattering moment ultimately reveals a truth that leaves everyone reeling.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"I got handed lemons, too, y'know-but I learned how to make lemonade with them.... No one ever told me I had to add sugar but that's life for you. It ain't sweet." That's the jumbled and unforgiving logic that drives Flock's (But Inside I'm Screaming) second novel, a punishing Southern family drama that tries to achieve To Kill a Mockingbird-grade poignancy by heaping tribulations on its child narrator. The novel starts off sweetly, with the smalltown antics of Carrie, a scrappy Scout-like eight-year-old who's always accompanied by her younger sister Emma. Carrie dreamily darts back and forth between her rough-and-tumble present (abusive stepfather, unloving mother) and the happy memories of her dead father, creating a bittersweet picture of her life in Toast, N.C., spiked with colorful Southern language and some feisty supporting characters. But journalist Flock soon loses control of her meandering story and this Southern slice-of-life disintegrates into narrative chaos. The action moves "slow as a crippled turtle," as Carrie's Momma would say, and down-home charm fails to camouflage the creaky, roundabout chronology. After nearly 300 pages of rambling drama, the twist at the end is revealed so haphazardly that it will probably bewilder readers more than surprise them. Sugarcoated it ain't, but instead of delivering profundity, Flock's tough love turns poor forsaken Carrie into a caricature. Agent, Laura Dail. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A credible and appealing eight-year-old narrates the story of her family's hardscrabble life. Carrie Parker lives in Toast, North Carolina, with her mother, her abusive stepfather, Richard, and her younger sister, Emma. Carrie's narrative has a clear-eyed, unsentimental tone: "The first time Richard hit me I saw stars in front of my eyes just like they do in cartoons." She learns to stay away from home and to stay out of the way after Richard has been drinking. She and Emma even have his temper calibrated. After his tenth beer he tends to explode, so after the eighth, the two sisters begin a slow retreat to the only safe place in the house, a spot they call "behind-the-couch." Their mother puts up with Richard's beatings-she needs the economic support-and urges the girls to behave. When Richard orders Carrie into his bedroom, Emma takes her place, pushing Carrie out and shutting the door. Afterward, Carrie thinks Emma has taken the whipping meant for her, but it's clear to the adult reader that Emma has been sexually abused. Despite the brutality of her family life, Carrie finds enjoyment in the woods, in her friends and teachers, and in memories of her dead father, who doted on her. Gradual moves down the economic scale-to another town, another job, another rundown shack-put even more pressure on the family. In desperation, Carrie writes a letter inviting her grandmother to visit. But even that fails. When it seems no one is willing to protect these children, an elderly neighbor takes an interest in Carrie. He notes the cuts and bruises inflicted by Richard and teaches her to shoot a rifle. "You got to learn how to defend yourself since no one else's doing it for you," he tells her.Second-novelist Flock (But Inside I'm Screaming, 2003) captures Carrie's powerlessness and resourcefulness beautifully. The child is so believable, in fact, that the final twist, which brings into question all of Carrie's perceptions, just doesn't work. Flawed, then, but tremendously touching. Author tour
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459233164
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 79,719
  • File size: 336 KB

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Flock

Elizabeth Flock is a former journalist who reported for Time and People magazines and worked as an on-air correspondent for CBS before becoming a full-time writer. The New York Times bestselling author of But Inside I’m Screaming, Everything Must Go and Me & Emma—a Book Sense Notable Title and Highlight Pick of the Year—lives in New York City. You can contact Elizabeth through her Web site at ElizabethFlock.com.

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Read an Excerpt

The first time Richard hit me I saw stars in front of my eyes just like they do in cartoons. It was just a backhand, though—not like when I saw Tommy Bucksmith's dad wallop him so hard that when he hit the pavement his head actually bounced. I s'pose Richard didn't know about the flips I used to do with Daddy where you face each other and while you're holding on to your daddy's hands you climb up his legs to right above the knees and then push off, through the triangle that your arms make with his. It's super fun. I was just trying to show Richard how it works. Anyway, I learned then and there to stay clear of Richard. I try to stay away from home as much as I possibly can.

It's impossible to get lost in a town called Toast. That's where I live: Toast, North Carolina. I don't know how it is anywhere else but here all the streets are named for what's on them. There's Post Office Road and Front Street, which takes you past the front of the stores, and Back Street, which is one street over—in back of them. There's New Church Road, even though the church that sits at the end of it isn't new anymore. There's Brown's Farm Road, which is where Hollis Brown lives with his family, and before him came other Browns who Momma knew and didn't like all that much, and Hilltop Road and even Riverbend Road. So wherever you set out for, the street signs will lead the way. I live on Murray Mill Road, and I s'pose if you didn't know any better you'd think my last name's Murray, but it's Parker—Mr. Murray passed on way before we got here. We didn't change a thing about the Murray house: the way in from Route 74 is just grass growing up between two straight lines so your tires'll know exactly where to go. The first thing you see after you've been driving till the count of sixty is the mill barn that's being held up over the pond by old stilts. We still have the board with peeling painted letters that says No Fishing on Sunday nailed up to the tree on the edge of the pond. Just to the side of that, taking up a whole outside wall of the mill, is Mr. Murray's old sign that shows a cartoon rooster cock-a-doodle-doing the words Feed Nutrena…Be Sure, Be Safe, Be Thrifty. It's getting hard to read the words of the poster now that a fine red dust from the dirt outside the mill has settled over it top to bottom. But you can see the rooster clear as day. Tacked up to the door of the old mill is this: "WARNING: It is unlawful for any person to sell, deliver, or hold or offer for sale any adulterated or misbranded grain. Maximum penalty $100 fine or 60 days imprisonment or both." I copied that down in my notebook from school.

"Whoa!" The notebook goes flying out of my hands into the dirt.

"Betcha didn't see that coming!" Richard laughs at me as I scramble to pick it up before he gets ahold of it. "Must be something pretty important, you grabbing at it like that. Lemme see there," and he pulls it out of my hands before I can make a squeak about it.

"Give it back."

"'Collie McGrath isn't talking to me on account of the frog incident'.. what's the frog incident?" He looks up from my diary.

"Give it back!" But when I go to try to get it back he shoves me away, flipping through the pages, scanning each one with his dirty finger. "Where am I? I can't wait to see what all you write about me. Hmm," more flipping, "Momma this, Momma that. Jesus H. Christ, nothing about your dear ole dad?"

He throws it back down to the ground and I'm mad I didn't listen to my own self when I thought I shouldn't reach down to pick it up until he leaves, 'cause when I do bend down again he shoves me into the dirt with his boot.

"There! Gave ya something to write about!"

I live here with my stepfather, Richard, my momma, and my sister, Emma. Emma and I are like Snow White and Rose Red. That's probably why it's our favorite bedtime story. It's about two sisters: one has really white skin and yellow hair (just like Momma) and the other one has darker skin and hair that's the color of the center of your eye (that's just like me). My hair changes colors depending on where you're standing and when. From the side in the daytime, my hair looks purple-black, but from the back at night it's like burned wood in the fireplace. When it's clean, Emma's hair is the color of a cotton ball: white, white, white. But usually it's so dirty it looks like the dusty old letters Momma keeps in a shoe box on her closet shelf.

Richard. Now there's a guy who isn't like anyone we've read about at bedtime. Momma says he's as different from Daddy as a cow from a crow, and I believe her. I mean, wouldn't you have to be likable to make everyone line up to buy carpet from you like Momma says they did for Daddy? Richard's not half as likable. I told Momma once that I thought Richard was hateable, but she didn't think it was funny so she sent me to my room. A few days later, when Richard was back picking on Momma she yelled out that no one liked him and that his own stepdaughter called him "hateable." When she said it I just stood there listening to the tick-tick-tick of the plastic daisy clock we have hanging in the kitchen, knowing it was too late to run.

Momma says our daddy was the best carpet salesman in the state of North Carolina. He must've sold a ton of carpet because there wasn't any left for us. We have hard linoleum. After he died Momma let me keep the leaf-green sample of shag that she found in the back seat of his car when she was cleaning it out before Mr. Dingle took it away. The sample must've fallen off the big piece of cardboard that had lots of other squares on it in different colors so folks could match it to their lives better. I keep it in the drawer of the white wicker night table by my bed in an old cigar box that has lots of colorful stickers of old-fashioned suitcases, stamps and airplanes (only on the cigar box they're spelled aeroplanes) slapped on every which way. Sometimes if I sniff into that shag square real hard I can still pick up that new carpet smell that followed Daddy around like a shadow.

Back to me and Emma. Our hair is different colors but our skin is where you see the biggest difference. Chocolate and vanilla difference. Emma looks like someone got bored painting her and just left her blank for someone else to fill in. Me? Well, Miss Mary at White's Drugstore always tilts her head to the side and says, "You look tired, chile," when she sees me, but I'm not—it's just the shadows under my eyes.

I'm eight—two years older than Emma, but because I'm small people probably think we're mismatched twins. And that's the way we think of each other. But I wish I could be more like Emma. I scream when I see a cicada, but Emma doesn't mind them. She scoops them up and puts them outside. I tell her she should just step on them but she doesn't listen to me. And she never gets picked on by the other kids. Once, Tommy Bucksmith twisted her arm around her back and held it there for a long time ("until you say I'm the best in the universe" he told her at the time, laughing while he winched her arm backward higher and higher) and she didn't make a peep. Emma's not scared of anything. Except for when Richard turns on Momma. Then we both go straight to behind-the-couch. Behind-the-couch is like another room for me and Emma. It's our fort. Anyway, we usually head there when we've counted ten squeaks from the foot pedal of the metal trash can in the kitchen. The bottles clank so loud I think my head'll split in two.

Richard starts bugging Momma after about the tenth squeak. I don't know why Momma doesn't stay out of his way from squeak eight on but she doesn't. Me and Emma, we've started a thing we call the floor shimmy where, when we hear squeak eight we start to scoot our behinds real slow from the floor in front of the TV toward behind-the-couch. With the volume up you can't hear us, and Richard's concentrating real hard on Momma so he doesn't notice that we're inching toward behind-the-couch. By squeak nine, we're about two Barbie-doll lengths from the front of the couch, and just before squeak ten we're sliding between the cool paint on the wall and the nubby brown plaid back of the couch. We used to think it was stinky behind-the-couch, but we don't even notice it anymore. I brought some of Momma's perfume there once and squirted it twice right into the fabric so now it smells just like Momma on Sunday.

We live in an old white house with chipping yellow shutters. It's three floors high, if you count the attic where me and Emma sleep. We used to have our own room across the hall from Momma and Daddy's room, but after he died and Richard moved in we had to go up another floor. But here's the worst part: Richard's making us move. I cain't even think about that right now. When I don't want to think about something I just pretend there's a little man in my head who takes the part of my brain that's thinking the bad thing and pushes on it real hard so it goes to the back of all the other things I could be thinking about.

Momma says it's trashy to have stuff out front of our house like we do so she goes and plants flowers in some of it so it'll look like we've got it there on purpose. Here's what we've got: three tires—one of them has grass already growing from the pile of dirt that's in the middle of it; a cat statue that's gray like a sidewalk; Richard's old car that he says will come back to life one of these days, but when it does I think it'll be confused since it doesn't have any tires on it; Momma's old tin washtub with flowers planted in it; a hammock Emma and me liked to swing in when we were really young, but now one side's all frayed because we never took it inside in the winter; a bale of hay that smells bad on account of rain rot; a metal rooster that points in the direction of a storm if one's coming; and Richard's old work boots. Momma up and planted flowers in them, too. I've never seen flowers in boots before, but she did it and sure enough there're daisies pushing up out of them right this minute. Oh, I almost forgot, Momma's clothesline is out there, too.

We don't have a front walk to get to the door to the house. I wish we did. Snow White and Rose Red have a front walk that takes you through an archway of roses. We just have grass that's been walked on so much it's dirt. But then you get to the front porch and that's the part I like best. It makes a lot of noise when you walk on it but I like being able to look out over everything.

"What're you doing?" Emma asks. Where she came from I don't know. I didn't even hear her.

I'm standing here on the front porch, surveying our yard and all the things we've got. Sometimes I pretend I'm a princess and that instead of things they're people, my subjects waving up to me on the balcony of my castle.

"What do you mean what am I doing?"

"Who're you waving at?"

"I wasn't waving."

"Were, too. You're pretending you're a princess again, aren't you?" Emma sits in Momma's old rocker that's missing most of the seat. She's smiling 'cause she knows she nailed me.

"Was not."

"Was to. What color dress you wearing?" I can tell by the tone in her voice because she isn't making fun of me anymore, she just wants to hear me talk my dream out loud so she can dream it, too. She's all serious now.

"It's pink, of course," I say, "and it's got sparkly beads sewn all over it so it looks like the dress is made of pink diamonds. And I have a big ole lace collar that's made by hand. It's not scratchy at all. In fact it's so soft it tickles me sometimes. The sleeves are velvet, white velvet. They're even softer than the lace. But the best part is my shoes. My shoes are made of glass, just like Cinderella's, and they have diamonds on the tips so they can match my dress."

Emma's eyes are closed but she's nodding.

"And here are my loyal subjects." I sweep my arm across the railing toward the yard. "They all love me because I'm a good princess, not a mean one like my stepsister. I give them food and money—and I talk to them like they're in my family. My loyal subjects…" I say this last part to all the stuff in the yard. Oh, yeah, we also have an old iron bed out there. It's rusted now but it used to be bright metal. It's right up front so I pretend it's the river of water that runs in a circle around my castle and that the front steps are a drawbridge. I wish the drawbridge could stay up and keep Richard from coming into the castle.

Uh-oh. Richard's noisy truck is pulling into its parking space to the side of the house. I cain't tell for sure but it looks like he might not be in too bad a mood right now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

"Whatchoo up to on this fine North Carolina day?" He's walking toward us, but I can tell by his speed that he isn't interested in our answer.

"Nothing," Emma and I say at the same time, both of us backing up to put more space between us and him. Just in case.

"Nothing," Richard mimics us with his chin sticking out extra far. But he keeps on walking past us into the house. "Libby? Where you at?" I hear him call to Momma once the porch door slams behind him. "It's payday and I'm in need of in-ee-bree-ation!" A second later I hear vacuumed air pop from a bottle and then the sound of a tin cap pinging onto the counter in the kitchen. Momma's voice is murmuring something I can't make out.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 322 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(140)

4 Star

(97)

3 Star

(48)

2 Star

(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 322 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2007

    Incredible Book

    Even though this book was very heartbreaking to read, it was very well written and is one of the best books I have read. It is narrated from an 8 year olds point of view and just captures your heart. The ending was a surprise and makes you think back to parts you had read that may have given you some hint of the outcome. I highly recommend this book.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2006

    Compelling and heartbreaking

    This is an incredible story, that is narrarated by an 8-year old girl. As you read it you really believe that a little girl is telling you this story. This story is absolutely heartbreaking at times, but it is beautifully told. The ending is quite a surprise. An incredible book!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2006

    Couldn't finish

    I have read many, many sad books - both fiction and non-fiction. However, this book has so disturbed me that I cannot finish it. I can't say that the writing is bad, because it is not. Maybe it's the fact that the author makes these characters so real that makes it difficult to read....I don't know. Based on the other reviews, I believe I have the end figured out. But it's just too gut-wrenching to finish......Sorry......

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2006

    A Best Book!!

    I read this book and it is so amazing! I hated, laughed, and learned the life that young girls and boys can have. I thank you Elizabeth Flock for writing such an awesome book.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2006

    Awesome Book!

    A must read for anyone who enjoys reading and likes those 'cryers'! I picked this book up to look at it because my baby's name is Emma, and when I read the summary, I had to have it! I am glad I have read it and glad that I or neither of my girls will have to ever go through the hardships that Carrie or Emma had to! It makes you realize what you have and be thankful the simple things in life! Go get it, you won't be sorry!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2007

    boring

    couldn't wait to finish this book. it was so boring.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 7, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    What a suprise!!!

    I was not expecting this book to end the way it did. Wow!! A must read! It will make you sad and angry but the ending is worth it. I get so mad at the mom for not stopping it and showing love to her daughter. But all that set aside it is a good book!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2007

    Amazing!

    Me and Emma is one of the greatest books I've read.(and I've read a lot of books!) If you don't like sad books then this one isn't for you. It broke my heart, but that made me not able to put it down. It really shows the sad truth about some people's home life are and how a friend can always make things better, at least for a while.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2005

    This is a good book for Freshman

    After just finshing the book Smashed by Koren Zailckas and A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, this is such a break. Carrie seems like the average 8 year old, but her sister acts older than her. That i think really brings out the nature of the story. I was rooting for the motehr to become reincarnated, and the stepfather to die a slow painful death.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2005

    Flawed but readable...

    I read this book only because my sisters and niece raved about it. I had to force myself to read one chapter a night until I was about halfway through, and then it went quicker...I so wanted the stepfather to die a slow, painful death. As for the little girl's relatives and the other adult characters, I am sure there are people like that out there, maybe even next door. The only good that can come from this novel is that it may raise people's awareness of what's going on around them enough to prevent or stop such evil. My other complaint is with the language; ie, Caroline's constant use of 'cain't' instead of 'can't'. If that's the way they talk, why don't the other characters pronounce it that way? And, if you're going to talk 'country', why not pronounce all the words the way they would sound? I don't know...that just really got on my last nerve. Another thing that I couldn't understand was this: If Caroline's problems started with the stepfather, what's with the bathroom incident before her father's death? I would not recommend this book for the beach, but if it can stop one child from being abused, it definitely has a purpose.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2007

    What a great book!

    I first bought 'Inside I'm Screaming' by this author and loved it. I then went to the Library and checked out this book, and now I wished I had bought it so I could loan it to friends. It is a great book. It really makes you angry and mad and sad all at the same time. This is one of the rare books that will really shock you at the end. I had to read the last few pages several times just to believe it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2005

    I loved this book!

    The author did a fantastic job of telling this story as 8-year old Carrie - a lonely and abused child who lives in extreme poverty in a remote southern town. The ending was absolutely wonderful!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2005

    Heartfelt Story

    This was a great story and I read the book in 2 days, it keeps you wanting to know what happens next..It's very sad, but it does happen in life, I just don't understand how a mother wouldn't protect her child, but I guess with all that the mother had been thru, she felt hopeless...I was hoping the grandmother would send child service's to the house and save her grandchild...Anyway, it was a great book because it ends the way I wanted it to...After reading this book, I needed something funny and happy, and read Kirstie Alley's book 'How to Lose Your A_ _ and Regain your Life' which I highly recommend, especially coming off a book like 'Me & Emma'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2005

    Great Read

    As an educator, I believe this book to be extremely important. Not everybody has the house, two cars in a garage, 2.5 'perfect' children, one dog, two cats, a daddy who actually cares and a soccer mom. Not everybody is so fortunate to have a normal life. What exactly is normalcy anyway? It sure wasn't Carrie's life with all of the pain and the heartache that she endured in such a short period of time. Readers who did not like this book probably like to play their own imagination game. The game of 'stuff like this really doesn't happen because I've never heard about it.' As for the dog collar incident, I'm sure that this has happened to someone somewhere. Ever read 'The Child Called It.' Child abuse runs rampant in the United States. We need to open our eyes and take the problem seriously. This book should have served as an eye-opener to many.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2005

    Sad

    It was difficult for me to read this book -- not because my childhood was similar because I couldn't relate to it at all. It was so unbelievable yet I do realize this is a pathetic reality of some children's lives. It was a good book -- and of course the ending was tremendous. I definitely recommend it to anyone who can stomach reading about abuse and neglect of children.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2005

    Excellent!!!

    I randomly picked this book up. I couldn't wait to get home and read this book every night. Read it in 3 days! The first page had me hooked! Wonderfully written. The twist in the end is great. I say hooray for Carrie! What a gifted Author. I will be looking for more books by Elizabeth Flock!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2014

    This story was the best I have read in years! It was so good aft

    This story was the best I have read in years! It was so good after I passed it around to my friends, I sent it to my aunt 900 miles away and she loved it just as much!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2007

    Alycia Maff on ME & EMMA

    Elizabeth Flock puts her readers through a roller coaster of emotions. She is able to take real life situations such as child abuse and make it feel like it¿s happening right in front of your eyes. This novel kept my interest from page to page I found it hard to put the book down. The absorbing, heartfelt novel Me and Emma threw me for a loop with its unexpected and twist ending. My thoughts were filled throughout the rest of my night because of the shock and awe I read about on the brilliantly pieced together pages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2005

    NOT GREAT!!!

    A friend and I read this book and neither of us thought it was so great. It was very sad at many points. It's hard to fathom the atrocities this child experienced. The shocker everyone is referring to at the end , I guessed within the first 50 pages. I had also guessed the other part of the ending mid-way through. It was just too predictable for me and maybe that's why I didn't enjoy it. I always read these reviews before I buy a book and don't want someone out there to be disappointed after reading this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2005

    New Fan of Mrs Flock

    Finished the book I just purchased 5 days ago and looking foward to getting 'But inside I am screaming' Keeps you on your toes 'till the end

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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