Becoming Emily Novak by Audrey Beth Stein
Published: January 31. 2023
Audrey Beth Stein
Genre: Literary Fiction
KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.
Audrey Beth Stein is the author of the picture books BEAR AND DRAGON CAT, DO OVER, LOOK AT ME, and THE DAY MY BEST FRIEND AND A MIGRAINE SLEPT OVER, as well as the memoir MAP, which was a Lambda Literary Award Finalist. She earned an MFA from Emerson College and taught creative writing workshops for a decade at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.
“Some days were better than others.”
Emily followed the rules and did what she knew would make her parents happy. She didn’t rock the boat or push boundaries. She knew she was different, but she also liked being safe. As she grows up and realizes her comfort zone holds her back and hides some truth, she makes amends. Then she gets the worst phone call.
This was a different book. It wasn’t thrilling or exciting, but something about it felt very authentic.
The family dynamic, drama, and the secrets no one wanted to talk about were all so realistic.
This was a quick glimpse of growing up of going through things that happen in life. Grandparents die. Families fight. There are things no one talks about. Traumas we don’t discuss. Rules that we break, chances we take, and regrets we have.
I found this story arc quite sad. Emily was so reserved and sheltered that she didn’t allow herself to experience things because she was afraid, which is understandable. I loved the balance between Emily and Zack.
Their dynamic was well done. Zack didn’t play by the rules, he didn’t do what anyone else expected, and he seemed fearless. Emily envied that. He also encouraged her to be herself without regret.
This story was about growing up, family, forgiveness, and love.