April 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Nobody’s Secret

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title in bold yellow caps, portrait of man in hat on rightMACCOLL, Michaela. Nobody’s Secret. 248p. further reading. Chronicle. Apr. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-0860-5. LC 2012030364.
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