Author: Julia Nobel
Publication: Sourcebooks, hardcover, 2019
Genre: Children’s Fiction/School Story
Plot: When Emmy’s child-psychologist-expert mother gets an opportunity to host a reality show, she ships Emmy off to boarding school in England called Wellsworth, which has ornate buildings and a secret society with an ominous history. Just before Emmy leaves Connecticut, she receives a mysterious letter that leads her to an ornate box that belonged to her father containing 12 ornate medallions. Emmy is intimidated by her new school and obnoxious roommate but is befriended by classmates Jack and Lola. Their suspicion that someone odd is going on at Wellsworth coincides with Emmy’s search for information about her father who disappeared when she was three. Is it possible that the disappearance of Emmy’s father is connected to the mysteries at Wellsworth?
My Impressions: This is the first in a series by a debut author, and combines several popular topics: boarding school and mysteries. Emmy is a shy but determined heroine, with a mother too dreadful to be believable. Not only does Dr. Willick send Emmy away to boarding school in the middle of a semester but she forbids her to play soccer (football), although Emmy is talented and loves the sport (and it would be a good way to make friends). Luckily, Emmy joins the team anyway, although I am surprised such a traditional school would not have the girls playing field hockey, lacrosse, or netball.
I can see the temptation for aspiring writers to create Harry Potter-like school stories against a backdrop of secrets/danger but it does not seem very original and I did not warm to Emmy or feel most of the characters were well developed. Still, I think the younger generation would like this book and American girls of 10 or so would enjoy imagining themselves at a school that looks like a cathedral. I always remember that my first job in publishing was answering letters from fans who wrote to Bantam Books asking where Sweet Valley High was so they could transfer! I wondered why they couldn't find a better use for someone with an MBA but it was more fun than looking at spreadsheets.
|Betty Buckley in Hello, Dolly (photo credit Julieta Cervantes, Washington Post)|
Source: Boston Public Library