Emily For Real Reviews

School Library Journal

EmilyForReal_C“Still experiencing the hurt from a recent breakup, Emily also has to contend with her grandfather’s death and the ensuing family drama that occurs soon after his funeral. Helping her cope is a new friendship with Leo, who, though dismissive and aloof at first, allows her into his life. Plot elements abound. Leo has anger issues, an alcoholic mother, and a sporadically present father, and Emily is hit with one revelation after another (finding out about her grandfather’s infidelity, a half aunt as a result of his affair, and revealed secrets that make her question her identity). Through it all, Gunnery gives Emily a thoughtful, introspective, and easily relatable voice, avoiding histrionics even as the narrative tends to drift toward afterschool-special territory.”
—Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library

Kirkus Reviews

“After being dumped by her boyfriend, an emotionally shaken 17-year-old high school senior makes friends with an angry young man and discovers that the secure family she always considered rock-solid is riddled with lies and secrets.

This is a story about familial ties-ties of blood, ties of love, ties that bind. It’s also about family lies and the way these lies affect core connections. Although protagonist Emily Sinclair’s family is small, it’s complex and is comprised of a variety of household situations: intact, divorced, step, gay, straight, illegitimate and adoptive. The story…is set in motion when Emily’s grandfather dies, and the family learns that he had both a longtime mistress and an illegitimate daughter. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Sinclair family’s surprising but believable secrets, and their eventual revelation shocks Emily to the quick. The other story thread concerns Emily’s realistically depicted budding friendship with Leo Mac, a new classmate with a plateful of family problems of his own, and their testy but ultimately supportive relationship.

…[The story] is genuinely touching at its tear-inducing, hopeful end.”

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CM Magazine

“Young adult readers, especially females, will enjoy reading about the challenges Emily faces and will cheer her on throughout the book, and she attempts to unravel the secrets which have been woven around her. The novel is readable and mostly plot-driven which will keep readers interested in finding out the details and what eventually happens to Emily.”

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Resource Links

“When Emily’s Grandad dies, she’s more concerned with her break up. When a mysterious guest shows up at her Grandad’s funeral, claiming to be an old friend of her Grandad’s Emily’s life gets suddenly more complicated. Her grandfather had a secret life and as it tears Emily’s family apart, Emily finds herself questioning everything she ever knew about her family.

Although Emily’s family situation—secret affairs, hidden adoptions, illegitimate children—could have come across as an over the top soap opera plot, Emily’s genuine characterization keeps the situation grounded in real emotion that readers will be able to relate to. The book is refreshingly romance-free—save for an odd, nearly out of place romantic development in the last twenty pages—giving Emily room to focus on her family and friend relationships, including her relationship with Leo.

Leo has a rough home situation, with an alcoholic mother. He doesn’t ask Emily too many questions about her home life for which she’s grateful and in turn she tries to be a supportive friend for everything Leo’s going through. Their relationship is unusual in teen fiction—an opposite sex friendship—and it lends realism to Emily For Real.

Teens more interested in friendship and family than romance will find themselves relating to Emily and rooting for her through her struggles.”
—Kat Drennan-Scace

The Chronicle Herald

“…Gunnery nicely captures the way families really are, the sweet, mundane and strained interactions of everyday life.

A longtime N.S. junior and senior high school teacher, Gunnery deftly handles the interactions among Emily, her schoolmates and teachers and her best friend Jenn, as well as giving credibility to Emily as the narrator.

Emily for Real is a satisfying read for teens who will root for Emily as she faces the challenges of friendship and families and growing up.”
—Pam Sword

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“As the narrator who shares her responses to a stream of stupefying revelations, Emily becomes a real girl, not a cardboard cut-out of a teen…”
—Helen Kubiw

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Ten Stories Up

“I love books that remind me exactly what it felt like to be a teenager.  And books where guys and girls have relationships that aren’t about the luuuurve. And books that have so much real-life drama that they don’t need magic and vampires and the end of the world (although I love those too). Most of all, I love books that are sweet and funny and then kick you in the gut with totally poignant lines.

Emily For Real is all of those books at once.”
—Lindsey Carmichael

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Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

“This is not the story of what once was, what could have been and what will be with wishes becoming horses and the less fortunate riding.  This is a story of the crud that life can deal us and how our story is not written by its appearance but by our reaction to it.  The author does a good job of getting us inside the heads of Emily and Leo…With the somewhat help of her new friend, [Emily] comes to terms with what happened and what’s happening, realizing that the grass is not greener on the other side, just simply another shade of mixed up and confused.”

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