Friday, April 5, 2013


Head over to Robyn Hood Black's place for lots of terrific poetry!

I interrupt this month of poetry (and I figure it's ok to interrupt it, since I actually have been writing poetry all week and am totally exhausted by writing poetry, because it's very hard work, kind of like trying to line up spaghetti and don't know how all of you real poets do it every single day) to bring you a novel. And no, it's not a novel in verse. It is a novel, however, where poetry features prominently. I haven't seen many reviews (and it's possible I just haven't been looking in the right places) and really want my poet friends to know about Kathryn Fitzmaurice's DESTINY REWRITTEN.

Eleven-year-old Emily Elizabeth Davis is the daughter of Isabelle, an English literature professor. Shortly before Isabelle is born, her mother finds a first edition of Emily Dickinson's poetry in a used bookstore. She buys it for Emily, and writes this inscription.

"Emily Dickinson is one of the great poets.
The same will be said of you one day."
Isabelle uses the poetry book in place of a baby book. Every time something important happens, she selects a poem and writes a note in the margin. She describes the book as "the roadmap of Emily's life."

Emily and her mother are very different. Isabelle is a free spirit. Emily is an over-the-top organizational goddess. Isabelle believes in waiting on one's destiny and tells Emily that if she "forces things, it will take longer to get to the truth." Emily believes in grabbing hold of life and creating one's destiny. 

Isabelle imagines her daughter growing up to be a poet, but Emily really wants to be a romance novel writer. She has read more than half of Danielle Steel's novels and copied down the happy endings of each of them. She attends meetings of the local romance writers' club at the local library. The chapters about the romance club meetings are guaranteed to make you laugh. Danielle shows up again at the end of the book, "And then, just like one of those endings of a Danielle Steel book, he stood up and he reached over, and he took my mom's hand in his."

Emily has never met her father and wants desperately to know him. One day, Isabelle tells Emily that her father's name is written somewhere in the poetry/baby book. Unfortunately, that same day, Emily's cousin, Mortie, accidentally donates the precious book to the Goodwill. And so a frantic search of used book stores all over the city ensues.

Poetry figures prominently throughout Destiny Rewritten. Early in the book, Emily's English teacher asks her students to write a "wonderful, elegant haiku." Connor, Emily's secret crush, raises his hand and says, "So when you say wonderful and elegant, you mean it can't be about sports?" (Why does this remind me of my life!?) And then Cecily Ann, who is a poet, raises her hand and suggests that when she is trying to write in a particular form, it helps her to think in the five-seven-five form.
"Pick up your pencil.
What will be written? Perhaps
an elegant poem.
Mrs. Mendoza thinks this is a great idea, and a two-page conversation between Emily and Connor, all done in haiku, ensues. Another day, Emily misses school and Cecily Ann writes the homework assignments in a poem. At still another point Emily, thinking that perhaps a poet might have bought the missing book, attends a poetry reading with Cecily Ann reads a list poem about a tree and then "some man reads about a garden he used to have, all in rhyming words." And most of us can relate to Emily, who says, "Sometimes you just want to slip out the back door."

Destiny Rewritten is full of twists and turns and surprises and funny lines lots of poetry. I don't know that it has universal appeal, I'm not sure I'd use it as a read aloud, but it's a definitely a book that I know lots of upper intermediate and middle grade readers, probably mostly girls, are going to love.  And I think it's a perfect read for National Poetry Month.

(A side note: I don't especially love the cover of this novel.  I really doesn't feel like it matches the book all that well and I am a little worried that people might miss the book because of that).


Linda B said...

It sounds fun, Carol, & you're right, I imagine the appeal will be to those girl readers who do love poetry, & a bit of a mystery. Thanks for telling about it!

Jone said...

I will have to look for this book. Sounds interesting.

Tabatha said...

You sold me! I understand your concern about the cover -- although people say, "Don't judge a book by its cover," that happens all the time!

Robyn Hood Black said...

This sounds like a delightful book - and a great concept. Thanks so much for sharing!

Happy Poetry Month!

Beverley Baird said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I have never written much poetry but I do enjoy reading it.
We had poetry day in class today and the kids loved it. I really enjoy sharing poems with my class. They are really enjoying writing poetry as well.

Mary Lee said...

This is on my TBR stack. Reading has taken a back seat (again) this month, but you have made me even more eager to get to it!

Ruth said...

I don't know if my kids would like it, but I think I really would! Thanks for the review!