All this year I’ve been reading at a rapid rate, and that only increased during the lockdown. As a way to connect with other readers, I launched The Novel Cauldron on Bookstagram and it’s been a blast. I’ve met so many new bookish friends. But there’s a dark side to Bookstagram…
I was inundated with so many amazing books to read. Too many amazing books to read!! My TBR pile exploded overnight!! Absolute pandemonium!
But the book that made it to the top of the list was this little blue beauty.
Fun Fact: My nickname is Emmie! I acquired it sometime around High School. Emily is quite a popular name, but I don’t see Emmie in the wild too often. So when I scrolled through Instagram and saw “my name” I squealed in delight.
It was an immediate one click purchase. It had my name, it featured love letters, and it fulfilled the Reading Rush challenge requirement of reading a book in a different continent. Take. My. Money.
Absolutely no regrets.
If only all impulse purchases worked out so well.
When Emmie Blue was a teenager she stood on the grounds of her school and released a balloon containing her contact information as well as her darkest secret. When a boy in France discovered Emmie’s balloon, a friendship touched by destiny was formed.
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis begins fourteen years later on the night before Emmie’s thirtieth birthday. It just so happens that “balloon boy”, Lucas, and Emmie have the same birthday. The day before their birthday, they go to their special restaurant on their special beach where the balloon was discovered.
Emmie loved Lucas for years and she knows it will be the day their serendipitous relationship comes to full fruition. Emmie knows Lucas will finally tell her he loves her too. Why else would he have arranged such a special date, at such a special place, on such a special day?
Emmie Blue made Lucas her whole life. She ignored the pain of her absentee father, the strained relationship with her mother, and the deep secret she kept as a teen. Her world was Lucas. So when Lucas asks Emmie a question that shocks her to her core, she quickly discovers that she must come to terms with the heartbreak of her past. By doing so she will find her future love.
The Novel Cauldron tends to have an open spoiler policy; you will note from the intro several paragraphs above. I bring this to your attention once more because I went into this book fairly blind and reveled in the experience. I don’t wish to ruin Dear Emmie Blue for anyone, because I freaking adore this book. So I may not dive as deep as I normally do. But don’t worry, I have plenty to say.
This book is your favorite pastry treat and warm drink served on the good china on an autumn day. It’s your favorite blanket and the smell of clean sheets. It’s the best hug from a long distance friend. It’s standing on the beach on a cloudy day with a warm coffee.
I walked around the house actually hugging this book after I finished reading it. There will probably be a reviewer who will be more objective about the book, but today from The Novel Cauldron, Dear Reader, you’re getting pure passion.
This book works because it’s classically romantic. It’s very sweet, it’s quite sad. The character doesn’t get what she wants but she, and we, end up better for it. At its core this book explores how reality ends up being better than a glossy romance, even if it is hard, a little sad, and definitely messy.
The characters are out of this world fantastic. Rosie, Emmie’s best friend, is a plus size fashion blogger who is bold and bawdy without feeling stereotypical. I feel a Rosie lives out there in the world and I want to meet her as well as be her. Rosie is balanced out by Fox who is tightly wound, posh and prim. They are laugh out loud funny.
Lucas is charming and lovable through Emmie’s eyes. He’s a true golden boy. There’s that halo glow of unreachable perfection about him because of Emmie’s feelings towards him. But Lucas is real as well, with flaws that Lia Louis subtly offers the reader while it takes Emmie a bit more time before she can see beyond the nostalgic glow.
Then there’s complicated, stormy Eliot. Lucas’s brother and the estranged third wheel to Emmie and Lucas’s friendship. The slow build of the distant older brother into the more dynamic and complex character he becomes is a real treat.
Let’s Talk About the Romance
The structure of the book is a traditional romantic comedy. A down on her luck heroine goes on a journey of self-discovery and is rewarded by discovering true love. There’s a crazy fun family, zany but lovable best friends, a quirky land lady. It hits the beats while feeling so effervescent and fresh.
The use of media, letters and mix CDs, is handled expertly in the novel. Letters are a foundation both of Lia Louis’s novels. As a special feature for Goodreads, Louis gathered together her recommended romance reads featuring letters. Noteworthy reads include the ever popular Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston and Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert.
This is not a steamy read. It’s romantic and full of longing in a wonderfully delicious way. I tend to prefer my books with a bit of steam, but this is an exception to the rule.
EMILY, YOU HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING CRITICAL ABOUT THE BOOK NOW
Well, I will note for the record that other readers have found the opening of the book a bit slow and remark that the second half of the book is significantly stronger.
I also think that readers with sensitivities should be aware that the big secret revolves around a toxic and inappropriate relationship. It’s not easy to read, but it’s handled well. I will say that Dear Emmie Blue is fairly melancholy for a romantic comedy. It’s not breezy and gone after the next read. It sticks. The book doesn’t gloss over what makes it hard for people to connect or evolve. It also highlights that the people you hold close to your heart can disappoint you, deeply but still be worthy of love.
*happily weepy again*
I love this book. I don’t know what else you want me to say?
When I’m a rich woman, I will buy a copy for each person in my book club. I will gift wrap it with a pretty red mug and some Ghirardelli hot chocolate mix. Or whatever kind of hot chocolate mix rich women purchase for their friends when they inflict books upon them.
Read it when you need a good comfort read. In structure I’ve compared it to romantic comedy movies I’m familiar with, like When Harry Met Sally or Crazy Rich Asians. I get a touch of the wistful longing romance similar to The Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society around the edges as well.
The mix tape CD reveal.
Go read Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis!