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Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl
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Nobody's Secret (edition 2013)

by Michaela MacColl

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7421162,398 (3.87)5
Member:mysterymax
Title:Nobody's Secret
Authors:Michaela MacColl
Info:San Francisco, Calif. : Chronicle Books, 2013.
Collections:Your library, Mysteries, JP/JF/YA
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Emily Dickinson, mystery, 1845, Amherst, 13 in 13, ER

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Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A very interesting book. I would say it was appropriate for middle school and up. I enjoyed the mystery although I would have also enjoyed a little more of the love story before the main death occurred. ( )
  LisaMP | Nov 5, 2013 |
A loving and fascinating tribute to young Emily Dickinson, featuring lines from her poems for each chapter heading and an imaginative, but realistic plot. MacColl's novel inspired me to learn more about Dickinson. ( )
  bookwren | Oct 3, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Nobody's Secret has an interesting premise: imagine Emily Dickinson turned teen detective! The fifteen-year-old incipient poet meets a mysterious and well-dressed man who makes mysteriously flirtatious small-talk and shortly afterwards dies--very mysteriously. In between household chores and social duties, Emily interviews all pertinent townsfolk, intent on getting to the bottom of three questions: Who was the man? Why was he floating in the pond, when he didn't appear to have drowned? What on earth would account for his sudden sartorial misadventures?

My impressions of Nobody's Secret are mixed, partly because I'm not sure of the audience. Marketing suggests this is a young adult novel (bolstered by my library's cataloging it as such), and it is set when Emily Dickinson was fifteen. However, for a murder mystery, the stakes feel very low, and the character interactions better suit a middle grade audience, in my opinion. Though Dickinson's poetry was sprinkled throughout, it felt like an add-on, rather than integral to the plot or even particularly well related to it.

Perhaps I had higher hopes for this story, as I do love Dickinson's poetry and I very much enjoyed MacColl's Prisoners in the Palace, but nevertheless the characters themselves are quite nicely drawn, if sometimes the minor ones feel a little archetypal. Some of the questions are resolved very obviously, but there's enough misdirection to engage the reader's attention. As a slim, single-sitting novel, it's quite engaging overall, actually, and I can't say I feel the hour or so I spent reading it was at all wasted.

All that's not to say this isn't a decent historical mystery; if the audience were comparatively youthful, it could actually be quite good. As far as recommendations go, I think this would make a good introduction to both genres (mystery and historical fiction) for a middle school English class; it could also initiate or coincide with a more in-depth study of Dickinson's poetry, perhaps even at a higher grade level.
  InfoQuest | Aug 24, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book is a well written, young adult novel. It gives the young reader a glimpse into what life was like when Emily Dickinson was alive. At the same time, it provides a clever mystery for the reader to try to solve. I would recommend this book for middle and high schooler as well as any adult who enjoys the simplicity and innocence of young adult literature. ( )
  LutherAnn | Jul 25, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Nobody's Secret is a story about a young Emily Dickinson solving a mystery. While it is fiction, it is a very believable story and gives the reader an idea of what Emily Dickinson was like as a teen. The book kept my attention and I really enjoyed it. I liked Emily and her sister's relationship, and how they worked together. Usually the main character is sneaking around and lieing to everyone so she can have all the glory. And while Emily did want to solve the mystery by herself she conceded that she did need her sister, Lavinia's help. I loved how the chapters began with bits of Emily's poems. I've always been a fan of her poetry, but now I think I want to know more about Emily Dickinson herself. The author, Michaela MacColl, has an easy yet captivating writing style and I look forward to reading more of her books.
  book_in_hand | Jun 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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To Rowan, who prefers more crows in her murders
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Emily lay perfectly still, hidden in the tall grass, her eyes closed tight.
Quotations
I'm nobody! Who are you?/Are you nobody too?/Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!/They'd banish us, you know!/How dreary to be somebody!/How public like a frog -/To tell your name - the livelong day-/To an admiring bog!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson meets a charming, enigmatic young man who playfully refuses to tell her his name, she is intrigued--so when he is found dead in her family's pond in Amherst she is determined to discover his secret, no matter how dangerous it may prove to be.… (more)

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