cover image Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things

Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things

Kathryn Burak. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-59643-736-4

Claire’s mother committed suicide, and Claire’s best friend, Richy, went missing nine months ago. Now she and her father have moved from Rhode Island to Amherst, Mass., so Claire can repeat her disrupted senior year in fresh surroundings. Claire’s obsession with her mother and Richy is understandable and clear, more so than her emotions toward the living—namely her father; a college-age student teacher named Tate; and a classmate, Tess—who intrude upon Claire’s self-absorbed consciousness in brief, disconnected scenes. Tate in particular is an uncomfortable character. Because he is a teacher, his interactions and eventual romance with Claire come across as harassing, even stalkerish. Their mutual fascination with the poet Emily Dickinson, symbolized by Tate’s distaste for the way her dress is displayed at the Amherst house where she lived, is the crux of the plot. Burak threads her debut novel with snippets of Dickinson’s poetry, which serve as a springboard for Claire’s own writing, but both Dickinson and Claire are lost amid the thicket of literary allusion and overwrought imagery. Ages 13–up. Agent: Elizabeth Kaplan, Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency. (Oct.)