A book review for parents
This second drama book in the "Emily Novels" by L.M. Montgomery is published by Starfire, an imprint of Random House Children's Books and is written for kids 10 to 13. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Around 1925, 13-year-old Emily Byrd Starr is an orphan living on a farm with her Aunt Elizabeth Murray. Emily is obsessed with words, which extends to reading the dictionary and endlessly writing in notebooks she calls Jimmy-books because her cousin Jimmy gives them to her. Cousin Jimmy is mentally challenged, but he is Emily's staunchest supporter and offers her valuable insights and guidance. The story spans about four years as Emily has various experiences and develops friendships with schoolmates, Perry and Teddy. Her best friend is Ilse. Emily champions Teddy's artistic ability so he can attend Shrewsbury, a school. In the end, Ilse, Perry and Emily also go to Shrewsbury, although Emily must live with Aunt Ruth. After graduation, Emily is given a chance to go to New York to develop her writing career. Instead, she chooses to return home.
The book expresses a Christian worldview and mentions God. Some ideas are quirky, though, such as when Emily's Aunt Janey vows never to wear a silk dress until all the world's heathens are converted to Christianity. Emily goes to prayer meetings but says she doesn't agree with Aunt Ruth's view of God because Aunt Ruth thinks God punishes her enemies. Aunt Janey walks every day in God's light and shines because of it. Emily becomes discouraged with her writing and thinks about quitting. She says that the Bible expresses everything so well, there is no need for her to write anything. On a beautiful night, Emily is moved by nature and prays to God to make her worthy of the beauty.
Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Ruth are Emily's role models. Aunt Elizabeth says God's ways are mysterious. She argues against a sermon she hears, disagreeing that there is good in Buddhism. Cousin Jimmy encourages Emily to get an education and tells her to work things out with her aunts.
Other Belief Systems
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Someone plays a trick on Emily, and she wrongly blames her best friend.
What assumptions did Emily have that helped her blame the wrong person?
What should she have done before blaming an innocent person?
- If you have a disagreement with a friend, what are some things you can do to resolve it correctly?
- Aunt Ruth accuses Emily of being sly and often thinks the worst of her.
Do you have anyone in your life that always thinks the worst of you?
If so, how do you cope with the situation?
- How do you think God would want you to behave?
- What can you do when you feel that things in your life are going in the wrong direction or that your life is spiraling out of control?
- What part does God play in your hard times?
How can He help you through bad things?
- Emily took a stand against what she thought was wrong.
Give an example of how you have done that in your life.
What is a stand that you would like to take today?
What is one thing you can do to take that stand?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.