Genre: YA Mystery
Series: No, it’s a beautiful standalone.
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press October 2, 2012
Author: Kathryn Burak
Recommended Read?: Yes, yes, yes. It’s an Edgar Nominee, isn’t that enough reason to want to pick it up?
When Claire’s best friend Richy went missing, he disappeared without a trace. But when Emily Dickinson’s dress goes missing from the Amherst museum, she knows exactly where it is: in her closet.
As Claire and her student teacher, Tate, attempt to figure out what do to about the dress, they begin to uncover the truth behind Richy’s disappearing act. Following a trail of clues across state lines, Claire and Tate attempt to find the person that Claire knows in her gut is responsible for his disappearance.
I first heard about Emily’s Dress & Other Missing Things when I was reviewing the Edgar 2013 Nominees. The cover drew me in, so I checked out the synopsis on goodreads, when that turned out to be equally as interesting I went out and got it. From the first page I knew I was in the hands of an expert writer. The prose was just so beautiful, from start to finish.
If you hadn’t read a summary before you started reading this book, you probably wouldn’t be sure what the plot of the story is for a while (like not until after the first 3 chapters). This book is more character driven than plot, and it works out just fine. The writing is beautiful and Claire is a character almost everyone can relate with or at least sympathize with.
Once it is revealed that Claire has a missing friend — and that famous dress of Emily Dickenson’s goes missing — everything gets way more interesting. The best part about the plot, I think, is that Claire isn’t attempting to solve the crime. She doesn’t think she can do a better job than the cops, she doesn’t want to be a faux-Nancy Drew, all she wants is to find a way to move on: a way to put it behind her, so she isn’t stuck on it forever.
I loved every character in this book — which is a true rarity for me. I adored Claire. She was clever, tragic yet strong, and relatable. Her life hadn’t been an easy one and yet she never stops in the book to moan over the hand fate gave her. I’m happy to be in her head the entire time. Plus, she’s fiery and aren’t all great female leads fiery?
Her best friend in the book doesn’t have much of a part, but I adored her. She was a burst of sunshine and the game her and Claire play (is he a dancer or is he human? based off of The Killer’s song Human) is so amusing. She brings needed humour to the book.
I really liked her father, too. He was very professor like (since that was his profession) but it’s clear he’s doing everything he can to hold it all together for his family. He’s a loving father, amusing, and I enjoyed every scene he was in. Even if he was a little dense to the needs of his daughter.
Then there’s Tate, the love interest. No shocker here but … I really adored him. He was a very well developed character and even though I didn’t always know why he did what he did, I yearned for him to be in the story all the time. I was cautious of him at first, since he was a student teacher. It’s true that most girls have a fantasy of hooking up with a teacher’s aid or professor at one point or another, I couldn’t help but think it’s a little early to do that in high school … even if I would have jumped at the chance with my AP Government teacher in high school (he was such a handsom man). Still, I liked him a great deal.
Ricky — the missing BFF — was even a developed character. All Claire’s flashbacks to him really brought him to life. He was cute, precious, and I really hoped Claire could magically find him.
It’s been a very long time since I was on the edge of my seat over the romance in a book and yet that was exactly what happened with this book. It’s subtly weaved throughout the story, but I so badly wanted Claire and Tate together. I didn’t know how it could work out — or even if it would — but I wanted it to happen. It kept me turning the pages.
Their relationship was so strange and unique. It was real. There was clear chemistry between them that burst out of the pages. Best of all, it wasn’t insta-love and Claire kept her head. She tried her best to be sensible about the situation, to try to deny any feelings, to keep him away … I won’t tell you if it worked out or not. You need to read this book. Trust me.
It’s so clear the moment I read this book why it’s an Edgar Nominee. I really hope it wins. The prose is beautiful, the plot interesting, the romance intense, and all the poems Burak throws into the story are thought provoking.