Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy

Today I'm reviewing a delightful new children's book by Barrie Summy, the host of our book review club. The Disappearance of Emily H. is a realistic mystery with paranormal clues. This middle grade novel will delight fans of Barrie's I So Don't Do Mysteries series and will make plenty of new fans as well.

Thirteen-year-old Raine moves from town to town, escaping her mom's heartbreaks. Transitions are challenging for Raine, who has an embarrassing paranormal habit of reading "sparkle" memories from inanimate objects. Kids have mocked Raine for how she reaches for things and fondles them, without realizing that she has magical powers. Only her single mom knows of her secret talent. Raine's deceased grandmother shared this paranormal trait.

At her new middle school in upstate New York, Raine is determined to act normal and to fit in, but she can't resist a mystery. Prior to Raine's arrival, unpopular Emily Huvar vanished without a visible trace. Only Raine can read the paranormal clues which point to the school's queen bee and her buzzing clique of bullies. Creepier still? Before Emily disappeared, she lived in Raine's new home....

The Disappearance of Emily H. was written in an easy-to-read style and set at a typical school with an entertaining cast of kids. The mean girl was a bit too generic, but the other characters were well developed and multifaceted. I especially liked the inclusion of a formerly homeschooled girl and children from less advantaged backgrounds. For a paranormal book, it was surprisingly realistic but not too predictable. There were some unexpected plot twists. This well paced mystery was stacked with clues that will keep kids turning the pages to the scary climax.

Witty observations added humor to the dark mystery:
"Shirlee chats about Yielding. She's one of those people who can handle both sides of a conversation. Works for me." 
"Like sunflowers turning toward the sun, everyone at the table suddenly tunes in to our conversation."
Raine is a strong, likable protagonist, who makes a fine role model. The narrative includes a sweet romance, but brave Raine doesn't need help from boys to solve her mystery. Magic reveals clues without resolving the underlying problems. Raine turns instead to social media to teach the bullies an important lesson. The content is still innocent enough for elementary school children. I predict this magical mystery will be a big hit among young readers.

Well done, Barrie!

Reviewer's Disclaimer: upon my request, I received a free galley from Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review. The author is a blog buddy. The book will be released on May 12, 2015 and is recommended for ages 10 and up. Raine is pronounced rain.

My review of I So Don't Do Spooky by Barrie Summy with an author interview.

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Rose said...

Sounds like a fun read and the perfect gift for my bookworm granddaughter Emily!

Barrie said...

Wow! Thank you, Sarah! I'm SO glad you enjoyed The Disappearance of Emily H.!

Bee said...

It sounds utterly charming! Sarah, you do a great job of giving us the gist without giving anything away.

Lucy said...

I pre-ordered this book months ago and I'm so looking forward to getting and reading it. Great review!

troutbirder said...

Having taught 13 year olds for the last ten years of my career I can definitely relate to paranormal. Sounds like an intriguing book.....:)

Sarah Laurence said...

Rose, it does sound the right match for an Emily!

Barrie, thanks for writing this book and for hosting the book review club!

Bee, it was indeed charming.

Lucy, I’d love to hear your reaction to EMILY.

Troutbirder, ha!

Unknown said...

I'm looking forward to this one! Thanks for the insightful review--glad you enjoyed it.


A Cuban In London said...

"Sparkle" memories. Never heard of it and it sounds like a great concept to build your story around. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Stacy said...

I need to order my copy of this. It sounds like such a great premise for a MG book.

Barrie's cover is really amazing.

Jenn Jilks said...

I wish I were still teaching! I'd love to use this with students.
A delightful review. I didn't know much about Barrie's books. I know she is good, as she is so successful!
Good work!

Donna said...

I added this to my To Read list on Goodreads. It sounds like a fun one and I think John (my 10-year-old) and I would enjoy it!

Gloria Baker said...

Sounds really fun!!
Love your review Sarah!

David Cranmer said...

We love Barrie's books around here! We are waiting for our daughter to be a wee bit older to begin reading them to her.

Linda McLaughlin said...

How cool that you reviewed Barrie's book. I especially like the sparkle memory talent, very original.

Amanda Summer said...

I enjoy paranormal arcs, so I'm happy to see this working its way into a middle grade novel.

Sarah Laurence said...

All, thanks!
Donna, I'd love to hear your son's reaction.