Emilie Day believes in playing it safe: she’s homeschooled, her best friend is her seizure dog, and she’s probably the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim.
Then Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, and Emilie goes from studying at home in her pj’s to halls full of strangers. To make matters worse, Emilie is paired with starting point guard Chatham York for a major research project on Emily Dickinson. She should be ecstatic when Chatham shows interest, but she has a problem. She hasn’t told anyone about her epilepsy.
Emilie lives in fear her recently adjusted meds will fail and she’ll seize at school. Eventually, the worst happens, and she must decide whether to withdraw to safety or follow a dead poet’s advice and “dwell in possibility.”
I’ve never felt so lucky to receive an advanced copy of a book. That’s how much I love The Thing With Feathers. That’s how amazing—amazing being the understatement of the year—it is.
Emilie’s been homeschooled pretty much her entire life, ever since she was a child and she got diagnosed with epilepsy. She doesn’t plan on attending a public school anytime soon. She’s pretty comfortable staying in her house right next to the ocean in the company of her best friend, a golden retriever.
Unfortunately, Emilie’s mom has gone mad. She decided it is time for Emilie to come out of her shell and attending public school is the first step.
Emilie is afraid of everything bad that could happen. She could seize while in school. In front of a bunch of spoiled teenagers. They’ll for sure make fun of her. Murphy’s Law follows Emilie like a shadow.
But in the end, moms always win. Emilie and her mom make a deal. Emilie will attend school for three months and then they’ll decide whether Emilie stays in school or she goes back to being homeschooled.
Who would have thought Emilie would end up befriending a lovely free-spirited girl? Who would have thought she would end up tutoring the boy with the most beautiful heart? And most importantly, who would have thought that by leaving her shell she would end up learning so much about life?
“But hermit crabs are never free, and neither am I. We’re both timid little creatures happier in tight, dark little spaces than out in the big world where we’re likely to be stepped on and crushed.”
The Thing With Feathers is told from Emilie’s perspective. We have the pleasure of walking in her shoes for a few hours. We feel her grief from losing her father to lung cancer three years ago. We feel the anxiety in the pit of her stomach at the thought of going to school and meeting new people. We feel the hummingbirds flying all over her body when she’s with Chatham. We feel her anger when she discovers her mom is ready to move on with her life. We feel the desperation and frustration when her “fight-or-flight” moment comes. And we feel the peace that comes after she’s made a decision.
I will forever remember Emilie’s character. She’s lovely. She discovers a lot about life through the story and it is wonderful to see her grow up. She’s one of those characters that think that because they’re the ones with the disease, they’re the only victims or the only ones suffering when actually people around them suffer too. In this case, Emilie couldn’t stand her mom “acting” like a victim. And I enjoyed watching her grow out of that way of thinking and I think y’all will too.
“He’s this bright ball of light at the center of his own universe, and everyone’s drawn to his energy.”
Let’s talk about Chatham for a moment. Imagine a tall beautiful surfer-esque boy with dimples and gorgeous blue eyes and you have Chatham. He loves everyone and is loved by everyone. He’s intelligent and hard-working and nice and he has the biggest heart on the face of the Earth. I say this in every review and will probably never stop mentioning it but charming larger-than-life characters like Chatham are my favorite. Characters like him are the reason my non-existent love life will stay that way. And he’s another reason why you should pick up this book.
“When the water gets deep and the current strong, you have to swim. Promise me, you’ll swim.”
To conclude, The Thing With Feathers is the perfect Young Adult book. It is one of those beautiful books you keep going back to because you just need one more read and then end up re-reading like a hundred times.
It touches subjects like grief, new beginnings, growing up, letting go, love and friendship. And it features Hitch, Emilie’s lovely golden retriever. No one can say no to that beautiful dog.
I may or may not have stayed up reading until I finished the book at 3 am. I also may or may not have shed a couple (thousand) tears while reading the chapters nearing the end. And this may or may not happen to you if you decide to read this book.