Emily Koll is awaiting trial at a young person’s institute, although for what, we’re not told. She’s given a notebook (she insists she’s too old for a journal) which she eventually leaves on top of the wardrobe in her room.
Within the notebook, Emily shares with us an insight into life in the institute, and her sessions with Doctor Gilyard, alongside telling us what her life was like before. She tells us that everyone knows the Emily Koll from the papers, but not the real her.. not what her life was like, what was taken from her, etc.
It’s a format which works really well.. as her life and crime unfolds, we also see her reactions to being in the institute, and how she communicates with those around her.
I really don’t want to spoil the story for you, but Emily’s crime is one of revenge, despite the fact that she’s obviously conflicted by her feelings. She’s made out to be an evil character by the papers, but that’s not the impression her notebook gives – but then can you really trust all that Emily has to say?
This is a compelling, page turning read, and is disturbing in a subtle way. It’s memorable, and I think readers will develop different reactions to Emily.
Added: a month or so after reading this, I wanted to come back to say that it has indeed stayed with me. I write reviews for those thinking of reading a book, so I don’t give away details, but there is a lot to think about after reading.
Published by Headline May 2012