Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis – eARC Book Review

Content warning: sexual assault

Blurb from Goodreads

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans?

My Review

I’d like to be left alone in a dark corner eating my weight in cookie dough ice cream please and thank you.

OH MY FEELS!!

This book was just perfect.

It was heartbreaking, sad, hopeful, romantic… filled with anger, loss, longing, sweetness, joy, laughter, regret, belief, trust… and I loved every single second of it.

When Emmie was a teenager she was sexually assaulted by the father of her best friend at a school dance but no one believed her. Her mother saw her as an inconvenience. Her father didn’t know she existed. Her friends alienated her. She was completely alone.

And so she released a red balloon with a message. And it found it’s way to a boy the exact same age as her. To Lucas. And suddenly Emmie wasn’t alone. She had Lucas. He became her best friend. His family looked out for her. His half-brother Elliot became her close friend too.

Flash forward to Emmie aged 30 and she’s working a lowly paid job, barely making ends meet, living as an old lady’s lodger, deeply traumatised by the sexual assault… and hopelessly in love with Lucas. But he’s getting married and Emmie has to somehow be his best (wo)man at the wedding.

And the book follows Emmie as she finally faces all the ghosts of her past. And it is brilliant! It’s the most delicately woven novel. The characters all feel dynamic and multilayered but it is in Emmie that this book shines.

Emmie is such a fantastic character. It is so easy to empathise with her and to will her on to happiness. I laughed with her, I cried with her, I felt her longing for family and security so keenly… so many times I wanted to reach into this book and give her a hug. She dealt with so much pain and loneliness but was a survivor. Unknown to her she has this resilience of spirit but it never felt like the author overdid it’s. Every action, reaction, thought etc that Emmie had felt completely authentic and natural. She was just beautifully complex and utterly simple all at once… a true skill of writing!

I absolutely adored the scenes with her and her landlady Louise. They were both so closed off to each other initially but the blossoming of their warmth and friendship towards each other was a thing of pure beauty. And then when Elliot was thrown in the mix… I loved it. I could read pages and pages of their interactions in that Victorian semi-D.

The least likeable character in the book was Lucas because it did feel like he took Emmie for granted a lot (and I wanted to slap him a number of times!!!), but this was juxtaposed with him wanting the very best for her. He could so easily have been a one dimensional character that was akin to Emmie’s manic pixie dream best friend but because the author explored the good and bad sides to his personality it made him very interesting to read about. And that epilogue… omg did not expect to be hit even more in the feels than I was but wow! It perfectly post-scripted Emmie’s relationship with Lucas.

I can’t even begin to talk about the character of Elliot, Lucas’ elder half-brother, without breaking into a big, silly smile! I loved him. I loved his whole character arc and just… he was basically perfection and I am completely smitten!!!

The book’s supporting cast was rounded out with Emmie’s best friends at work who were a great support system for her, but also, and more poignantly, with her mother. Although she didn’t have much page time Emmie’s mother’s presence was ever felt throughout the read and the absence of deep maternal love even more so. I thought their difficult relationship was very tenderly and sensitively written.

This is a book that I recommend to anyone who loves quiet novels with deep emotions running through it. ‘Dear Emmie Blue’ could so easily have felt like it was packed with too many emotional issues, but with the skill of the author, Lia Louis, it hit the perfect pitch throughout, and I absolutely adored every second I got to spend with these characters.

Highly recommended

*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

This U.K. edition publishing 6th August 2020, Trapeze/Orion

29 thoughts on “Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis – eARC Book Review

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