Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I, Emma Freke, by Elizabeth Atkinson

"I, Emma Freke, am not a freak. Or maybe I am. I just don't know."

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 fa├žade. 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.

Right off the bat, we liked the cover. In retrospect, it doesn't tell you much about the book, but it is eye-catching. It made us feel happy and free, reminding us of lazy summer days basking in the sun by the pond. Well, okay, we were born in a pet store, but you get the point.
This is a very sweet story, one that makes you want to laugh and slap someone at the same time. While it is, yes, a teen searching-for-identity story, it doesn't overdo the angst. A couple predictable bits (guy in the bead store, hello), but also a few surprises. Maybe not entirely realistic, but nothing we can't ignore for the sake of the story flow. You won't need to have felt like a "freak" before to identify with Emma, or to enjoy this nice end-of-summer (or any time) read. We give it a
4 out of 5.

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