Nobody's Secret

Nobody's Secret

3.4 5
by Michaela MacColl
     
 

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When fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson meets a mysterious, handsome young man who doesn't seem to know who she or her family is and playfully refuses to divulge his name, she's intrigued. She enjoys her secret flirtation with "Mr. Nobody"—until he turns up dead in her family's pond. She's stricken with guilt and is determined to discover who this enigmatic

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Overview

When fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson meets a mysterious, handsome young man who doesn't seem to know who she or her family is and playfully refuses to divulge his name, she's intrigued. She enjoys her secret flirtation with "Mr. Nobody"—until he turns up dead in her family's pond. She's stricken with guilt and is determined to discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he's buried in an anonymous grave, an investigation that takes her deep into town secrets, blossoming romance, and deadly danger. A celebration of Emily Dickinson's intellect and spunk, this exquisitely written and meticulously researched page-turner will excite fans of mystery, romance, and poetry alike.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A 15-year-old Emily Dickinson stars in the first novel in an intriguing planned series from MacColl (Promise the Night) that recasts famous literary figures as detectives. Growing up in 1845 Amherst, Mass., Emily resents a life of chores that will surely lead to her becoming a housewife. When she meets “Mr. Nobody,” a handsome traveler who seems to understand her in a way that her family and town do not, it’s a glimpse of hope. But before a romance can begin, he turns up dead. Although Emily is still recovering from illness, she is determined to uncover Mr. Nobody’s true identity so he can have a Christian burial—and to prove that his death wasn’t accidental. MacColl skillfully draws from Dickenson’s life to create a vision of the young poet as sharp-thinking, nature-obsessed, and determinedly curious. Lines from Dickinson’s poems open the chapters, which hint at how the themes and subjects they explored might have developed in her life and mind, providing tantalizing—if fictional—context for the poet’s taut verse. Ages 12–up. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
" I would recommend this book to all readers who like history." - Reading Teen"

This imaginative take on the young poet... will find a wide audience for both classroom connections and personal reading." - Booklist"

Suspenseful, often humorous. inventive" - Shelf Awareness"

MacColl takes a character that most people do not really know much about and brings her to life... fun, interesting reading" - VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates"

MacColl skillfully draws from Dickenson's life to create a vision of the young poet as sharp-thinking, nature-obsessed, and determinedly curious." - Publishers Weekly, starred review"

MacColl once again brings a strong female protagonist to life" - School Library Journal, Starred Review"

MacColl masterfully weaves Dickinson's poetry into the tale."—Library Media Connection"

I would recommend this to anybody who is looking for a fun middle-grade/teen mystery. It kept me interested to the very last page." - Reading Teen"

Gracefully folds factual elements of Dickinson's life and work into the fiction."-The Horn Book Magazine"

For readers interested in Emily Dickinson and her poetry, this would certainly be of interest." - Stacked"

A suspenseful, often humorous historical novel... MacColl demonstrates how accessible Dickinson's poetry was." - Shelf Awareness for Readers, starred review

VOYA - Ellen Frank
Fans of Emily Dickinson will love this behind-the-scenes look into the everyday life of the young poet growing up in Amherst, Massachusetts. In this fictional account, Emily falls in love with a stranger who, unfortunately, mysteriously dies, and his body turns up in her family pond. Emily is determined to solve the mystery of his death, despite her family's warning not to get involved. Interspersed throughout the novel are actual lines from Emily Dickinson's works and detailed descriptions of daily life in the 1850s. MacColl takes a character that most people do not really know much about and brings her to life in this fictional mystery/romance. The book has some quick dialogue that makes for fun, interesting reading, which will appeal to young females who already show some interest in poetry. The vocabulary may be slightly challenging for a middle school student, but the typeface of the book and the subject matter are very suitable for the elementary and lower middle school student. There is a short reference section at the conclusion of the book that recommends some helpful websites and books about Emily Dickinson. The short biography of the Dickinson family at the back of the novel is also very helpful; recommend reading the note first to place the book in the proper context. Reviewer: Ellen Frank
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—When 15-year-old Emily Dickinson meets and flirts with a handsome stranger, she feels the first flicker of romance. Then the young man is found dead in her family's pond, and the budding poet is sure that he was a victim of foul play. Determined to see that justice is done, she and her younger sister, Vinnie, investigate and discover that he is James Wentworth, heir to a fortune from which his aunt and uncle have defrauded him. Suspecting murder, Emily sets out to solve the case, almost becoming a victim herself. Life in 1845 small-town Massachusetts is painstakingly portrayed throughout this suspenseful tale. Emily is extremely well drawn, revealing her enthusiasm for and intense curiosity about the smallest of life's details, while minor characters have just enough depth to provoke interest. The fast-moving plot makes this a well-crafted page-turner. The dialogue rings true, both to the historical time and to the chronological ages and social status of the characters. The full text of "I'm Nobody," as well as quotes from other poems, not only focus readers' thoughts but also provide an easy introduction to the recluse's poetry. The author's note explains which of the novel's details are based on fact. MacColl once again brings a strong female protagonist to life, revealing pertinent and interesting information about a literary figure.—Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, formerly at LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Kirkus Reviews
First in a new series that, according to marketing copy, "imagines great literary figures as teenage crime solvers"--aye, there's the rub. Fifteen-year-old Emily Dickenson encounters a young man she doesn't know in one of the fields near her Amherst, Mass., home. Playfully, they call each other Mr. and Miss Nobody, not revealing to each other their names. They meet again by chance, and then once more when Mr. Nobody is found dead in Emily's family's pond. While the rest of the town seems perfectly happy to bury the unknown man in the potter's field, Emily persists in seeing his death not as accidental, but murder. She roams the town, uncovering secrets at every turn, until at last she's solved the puzzle. But great literary figures aren't often teenage crime solvers; the device does justice to neither the historic Emily Dickenson nor to mystery lovers. MacColl has done her research, which shows in a wealth of detail that often, as in the case of Emily's father's letter, stands out as odd and doesn't advance the story. Various side characters seem mere puppets that bend themselves to Emily's will: The town doctor, for example, doesn't check for water in the deceased's lungs until Emily asks him to. Even Emily doesn't quite come alive: The novel captures her daily life and her poetry but not her living heart. MacColl's previous books are better. A disappointment. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452128542
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
03/04/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Michaela MacColl studied multidisciplinary history at Vassar College and Yale University. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Connecticut.

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