Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Lia Louis - Dear Emmie Blue

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.
Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?
Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over.

Comment: I can't remember why I've added this one to my TBR...probably something to do with the original premise and some positive reviews here and there...

In this book we meet heroine Emmie Blue, and when she was a teenager, after a terrible situation which she saw as affecting everything in her life, she decided to write a secret along with her email address and put it inside a balloon, which she let go. Later, the balloon ended up in France and she got a reply back. This was the start of a solid friendship with Lucas Moreau, the boy who found her balloon, and now 14 years later, Emmie has convinced herself that he is as in love with her as she is with him. However, her life once more has a hit when he shares he proposed to the girlfriend she thought he had broken up with and wants Emmie to be his "best woman". As we get to see Emmie deal with this, more about her life is revealed and in the end, is is true the love of her life is Lucas or has she got it wrong...?

I admit I had some problems being able to read this story uninterrupted and that affected my impressions of it but deep down, this is actually a very engaging story and I was quite curious to learn more things about the heroine as the plot developed. She seems rather basic, characterization wise at first, but the more we discover, the more interesting she becomes.

Emmie never knew her father and she has looked for him even though her aloof mother wasn't keen on the idea. Emmie doesn't have such a good relationship with her mother, who thinks she is too clingy and lacking a practical nature but it wasn't until she became a teenager and it all changed. What she thought was a good life, despite her mother's less than nurturing personality, was filled with a purpose and friends, at least until one fateful day at a school dance changed everything, and after that she released her balloon.

The little things that start changing our perspective on what is happening are given slowly, sometimes when we less expect it but globally, the idea is that Emmie hasn't been lucky in life, with betrayals and disappointments and the feeling she isn't good enough for others. Lucas is like her lifeline, because in having someone who is on her side makes a big difference and it can be easy to understand why she focused so much on him and on what she feels for him. However, part of the slow paced discoveries is a way for us to realize Emmie isn't sharing everything right away, like the fact Lucas has a brother who used to be a big friend as well until he betrayed her and now they are just polite acquaintances, or the fact she works as a waitress despite her education is because she can't enter a school.

This makes for a continuously busy story but I'll confess that sometimes it felt as if the secrets had to be kept on purpose, otherwise the author's intention on going a certain way would be for nothing. I also think this made for a slightly unrealistic interaction behavior... it was hard to believe Emmie would just assume certain things when it seemed so obvious for the reader the exact opposite. The writing wasn't always smooth but I suppose the emotions portrayed compensated, especially when Emmie faced situations we could see were hurting or tiring her.

The romance is very subtle. Even when it gets to an obvious point, the author still wants to keep things a little ambiguous. I guess that is where the love triangle suggestion might come from, but in my opinion there's no love triangle because the truth is quite easy to spot from the start. Some readers have mentioned doubt until the end but anyone who has read more romances will immediately have an idea of how this would go. If it weren't to be so, then that would be the biggest twist of all...

I think this was a good enough study on emotions, and I did feel for Emmie when something seemed to prove to her she bet on the wrong people to comfort her of to trust. Still, people are likely to have flaws and I liked that nothing was cartoonish, in the sense good people were angels and bad people were devils, but the author did a good job in this, allowing the reader to grasp ideas on their own. I'd place this story more along the woman's fiction percentage, than on the romance one but it can work for fans of both.

All things considered, this was an entertaining story and I'll likely try something else by the author one day.
Grade: 8/10

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