Reviews for Destiny, Rewritten

From Kirkus Reviews: (December, 2012)

Sixth-grader Emily Davis, destined to be a poet like her namesake, discovers that she can help the hand of fate.

Emily doesn’t like poetry very much. She’d rather be a different kind of writer. Her single mother chose her name from a book she’d purchased the day before Emily’s birth. Alongside Emily Dickinson’s poems, she wrote important happenings from her daughter’s life. But the very day Emily learns that one of those notes contains her father’s name, the book accidentally goes to Goodwill. Her efforts to find it again and learn her father’s name serve as the scaffolding for this first-person coming-of-age story set in Berkeley, Calif., during the 2006-08 oak grove controversy. Longing to complete her family, Emily actually practices composing happy endings for romance novels. With the help of best friend, Wavey St. Clair, and soldier-wannabe cousin Mortie, she haunts used bookstores. Some surprising coincidences and her new practice of doing the unexpected—to leave room for chance—lead to a very happy ending indeed. There’s a proto-romance with classmate Connor Kelly, attention paid to environmental issues and some interesting poetry, but the focus is squarely on Emily’s growing self-determination. Emotionally, her story rings true.

Readers will applaud Emily’s newfound understanding of the workings of destiny and might even follow her lead. (Fiction. 9-13)


From Shelf Awareness (Jan, 2013) starred review

Kathryn Fitzmaurice (The Year the Swallows Came Early) creates another memorable 11-year-old grappling with her identity and her passions. Emily Elizabeth Davis lives with her mother, aunt and cousin in the heart of Berkeley, Calif., where everybody knows everybody. Her mother named her for Emily Dickinson, but Emily prefers romance novels to poetry. She’s read almost half of Danielle Steel’s books, and copies down the happy endings of each of them. Fitzmaurice portrays a strong bond between mother and daughter, and chronicles the tension that develops between them over her mother’s aspirations for Emily versus Emily’s own interests, and Emily’s growing resentment of her mother’s caginess about the identity of Emily’s father. The woman inscribes a first edition of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson to Emily: “Emily Dickinson is one of the great poets. The same will be said of you one day.” Rather than keeping a photo album for Emily, she records each milestone of Emily’s life next to a poem that ties in; “the road map of your life,” she calls it. She wrote Emily’s birth weight and height in the margins of “Angels, in the early morning,” and recorded the date of her first steps next to “I’ll tell you how the Sun rose.” Just after Emily learns that her mother wrote her father’s name in the margins of the Dickinson poetry book, the heroine inadvertently places it on top of some donation boxes. Suddenly the road map to Emily’s life is gone. For the balance of the novel, she searches the town to find the volume.

Besides confiding in Danielle Steel through letters, Emily also has a best friend, Wavey St. Clair. Wavey is so loyal, she compromises her perfect attendance record to help Emily search for her book. Fitzmaurice possesses a perfect ear for dialogue when it comes to conversations between the sixth graders. Emily grapples with whether destiny truly does rule her life, or whether, “if you do something every once in a while that’s unexpected,… it might change the way you are.” Emily’s search for her book, her internal debate about destiny and the ways in which the heroine makes small changes in her life all come together into a moving climax. Emily comes to realize that sometimes the answer you needed was right there all the time. –Jennifer M. Brown

From Publishers Weekly (Feb, 2013)

Fitzmaurice explores fate and destiny with a light yet thoughtful touch in this novel about sixth-grader Emily, named by her free-spirit mother after Emily Dickinson. Emily’s mother is sure that her daughter’s destiny is tied to the famous writer’s and that she will be a great poet (she even commemorates the important moments of Emily’s life in a first edition of Dickinson’s poetry). Emily, however, thrives on predictability and order, and has no feel for poetry—though she is obsessed with romantic novels’ happy endings, since she is searching for one: finding her unknown father, whose identity her mother has never disclosed. Just as Emily learns his name is hidden in the Dickinson book, it is accidentally taken and Emily sets out to find it, challenging her mother’s belief that things should “unfold in their natural course.” Aptly set amid the hippie ambiance of Berkeley, Calif., and peopled by offbeat, but believable characters, Fitzmaurice’s story deftly mingles Dickinson, Danielle Steel, a budding crush, and protesting tree sitters while maintaining suspense that leads to a satisfying ending. Ages 9–12. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Mar.)


From Booklist (Jan, 2013)

Emily’s father, whose identity is a mystery, has always been missing from her life, but this story revolves around another mystery, a missing treasure, The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, the book that Emily’s mother chose for her daughter before she was born, along with her name and destiny. Now in sixth grade, Emily has her doubts. Despite her mothers wish she be a poet, she clearly prefers writing romance novels, complete with happy endings. Still, at home, at school, and on the hunt for the treasured book, poetry is often a topic of conversation or reflection. Fate and chance have a role in Emily’s story, but she increasingly takes the lead and actively shapes her future. Emily’s engaging first person narrative chronicles her daily life, her wonderfully quirky family, her musings on fate, her growing sense of self, and her one-way correspondence with her favorite write, Danielle Steel. The books idyllically happy ending may have its critics, but most young readers will find it entirely satisfying.

Carolyn Phelan