Summary: Emily’s breakup with her boyfriend Brian comes right before the sudden death of her grandfather. Circumstances conspire to leave Emily without a boyfriend or a best friend to confide in when her grandfather’s will turns out to have some surprises. Enter Leo, a guy who thinks Shakespeare is a pervert and is dealing with challenges of his own. The two strike up an unlikely friendship that supports Leo through family conflicts and Emily through the revelation of a secret that will change her life.
Number of Pages: 202
Age Range: 14-16
Review: Through Emily For Real, Sylvia Gunnery provides her readers with a window into Emily’s family, a close-knit group centred by her father Gerald and his twin sister Emma. As multiple family secrets are revealed, Emily turns to a new classmate named Leo for support and ends up finding a best, if not somewhat unusual, friend.
I love Gunnery’s heartfelt characters. We join Emily at the beginning of the book frantically cutting out her now ex-boyfriend from all of their pictures making it easy to slip into her perspective. Emily For Real is a lighter read about the true meaning of family, issues of identity and genuine friendship.
Reading a story where the main girl and guy characters are just friends, and great friends at that, is refreshing, especially because the dynamic between Emily and Leo is real and relaxed. Gunnery allows them to just be with each other, but also to challenge each other when needed. Leo’s advice on how to handle Brian coming back into town was perfect.
Even in the midst of the family confusion, Emily is always surrounded by love. I was sad when I finished Emily For Real, because I found myself just wanting to live in her world a little longer.
“… I already know that life has its ups and downs, that there’s more fish in the sea, that love can be cruel, and any other cliché that’s supposed to make you feel good but only makes you want to puke.” – Emily from Emily For Real by Sylvia Gunnery, page 3
“After she leaves I go to my room and listen to music and picture Brian talking slow French to this girl in Montreal and her giggling when his accent sounds English and his smile and brown eyes and just the way he tilts his head sideways when he’s kissing. His soft soft lips and how sweet his breath smells. The pressure of his mouth and how he sometimes moans and pulls me in closer, tighter.
But it’s not me. It’s her.
Crying is not cathartic.” – Emily from Emily For Real by Sylvia Gunnery, page 9
“Right now Leo’s eyes are dark wells. He’s down in there somewhere and so’s his little sister Caroline. It’s like they’ll be down in there forever unless their mom wakes up and sees them and holds out her hand.” – Emily from Emily For Real by Sylvia Gunnery, page 47
“‘Silence never works.'” – Dana from Emily For Real by Sylvia Gunnery, page 166
“‘Kids figure stuff out. And they can handle more than adults give them credit for.’ I don’t try to keep the sharp edge off what I’m saying.
Dad looks at Mom and she looks down at her plate. It feels like we’re all stuck in quicksand.
If you ever get stuck in quicksand, you’re supposed to lie flat so you spread out your weight and you won’t sink like a stone into the guck. I remember learning about that in elementary school. But are you just supposed to lie there? Shouldn’t you edge your way along, very cautiously, until you reach solid ground? Because if you just lie there, you’d eventually sink. Maybe more slowly, but you’d still sink. I’m sure of that.” – Emily from Emily For Real by Sylvia Gunnery, page 171