Another Day as Emily is a new work in free verse by Eileen Spinelli. I fell in love with Spinelli’s work when I read Where I Live and The Dancing Pancake and I was excited to see a new book by this author on the shelf at the library. I was not disappointed.
Another Day as Emily is told from Suzy’s point of view. Suzy is 11 years old. Her younger brother makes a 911 call when he finds their next door neighbor collapsed on the floor and is proclaimed a local hero–complete with a homemade cape and his name in the newspaper. At first Suzy joins her parents and neighborhood in their “Isn’t he sweet and SO smart” attitude toward her brother. She quickly loses her enthusiasm and tolerance for his new popularity.
To Suzy, the attention focused on her brother starts to feel like an ABSENCE of attention for her. When one of his new “hero” antics causes Suzy to miss out on the birthday trip she and her father have planned AND she loses out on another special event with her best friend Suzy feels crushed by her disappointments and abandoned by her parents in favor of her “hero” brother. When the unfairness of her life overwhelms her Suzy decides to exchange her life for that of Emily Dickinson’s (to whose life and works she has been introduced through a Summer Program at the Library). Referring to her own research Suzy compiles a list of the things Emily was most likely to do…and NOT do. Baseball, one of Suzy’s passions, was not of interest to Emily Dickinson; she communicated only through written letters; she cleaned and baked; she would sometimes lower a basket of homemade gingerbread for the neighbor children. On occasion she DID visit her sister-in-law next door, but otherwise remained hidden in her home wearing mostly white dresses.
Suzy makes a sincere attempt to imitate Dickinson’s life…to the point where her parents don’t think THEY can take it anymore. In the process Suzy (predictably) discovers the people, the love, the friendships in her own life which persist even when it feels like they do not.
Another Day as Emily is an easy read whose greatest appeal will be to young girls from about 8-12 yrs of age. As emotions and life circumstance start to play larger roles in our lives we naturally look to those around us for clues on how to handle those situations. Suzy finds that in her neighbor, her parents and her best friend and readers can find it in Suzy herself.