Review: I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth AtkinsonI, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson
Published by Carolrhoda Books on 2012-01-01
Genres: Family, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 234
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

I, Emma Freke, am not a freak. Or maybe I am. I just don't know."

What's in a name? I, Emma Freke is a charming search-for-identity story about Emma?the only "normal" member of her quirky family. Her flighty, New Age mom seems to barely have time for a daughter, especially one who annoyingly spoils her mom's youthful facade. Emma's well-meaning grandpa is clueless. And her only friends are the local librarian and a precocious 10-year old adopted by the two old ladies next door.

Smart, shy, and nearly six feet tall, Emma struggles to fit in at school, so she jumps at the opportunity to "home school" until that too turns into another of mom's half-baked ideas.

The real crisis comes when she gets an invitation to The Freke Family Reunion, and her fellow Frekes aren't at all what she expects. While Emma desperately tries to find her niche, she discovers that perhaps it's better to be her own "freak" than someone else's Freke.

Emma Freke, aside from having an unfortunate name, is at an awkward stage in life. She’s 12, about to hit puberty, has a new age-y mother and is the tallest girl in her class. She’s also got crippling self-esteem issues. I’m sure we all remember our middle school/pre-teen years. I know I was super awkward (and still kind of am). Hello, my friends and I dressed up as the Sailor Scouts for a play. I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson is the sort of book I would have loved in middle school. I would have easily related to Emma’s search for identity and acceptance. I mean, what kid doesn’t experience moments of self-doubt?

I won’t lie. I’m not a huge fan of middle grade fiction. Personally, I find it a little young. Please, don’t burn me at the stake for that, it’s just my preference. However, I won’t discount all middle grade as badly written, or terrible. As, I do find there are some gems that do work for me. Mainly older MG and Percy Jackson (holla atcha Lightning Thief!!). So, I, Emma Freke came as a gentle surprise to me. I was surprised at how much I genuinely enjoyed this book. I mean, I grabbed this at BEA because I wanted to check out some books published by Carolrhoda. This was certainly a good choice.

Atkinson has a fabulous character in Emma. As a reader, we can feel just how uncomfortable Emma is in her own skin. She’s rather straight-laced in comparison to her hippie mother. Emma feels awkward. She feels she doesn’t fit in at school because she looks older than everyone else. And, she doesn’t know her father. However, all of this changes when one day Emma gets an invitation to the Freke family reunion in the mail. This is a part of the family she’s never met. What ensues is a journey of self-discovery and accepting yourself, quirks and all.

What can I say, except if you know an awkward middle schooler, hand them I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson. They deserve to go on Emmas journey and meet the other characters in the novel.

Also, bonus points, there are lesbian moms in the novel and it is totes NONCHALANT. Yes, awesome.

Other Reviews:

The Happy Nappy Book Seller
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Diary of a Bibliophile

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Don’t worry, we won’t burn you at the stake 😛 (I personally also prefer YA). Middle School was seriously the most awkward/miserable time of my life. Just from reading your review I can already relate to Emma.

  2. I also don’t really like MG for the same reason-it’s a perfectly valid personal preference! However this does look promising and I think the cover is very pretty.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by andrewkarre. andrewkarre said: RT @booksandwine: On I, Emma Freke by @tWeenbooks @CarolrhodaLab 'the sort of book I would have loved in middle school' […]

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