Tarshis, Lauren. 2007. Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of A Tree. Penguin. 200 pages.
Emma Jean Lazarus knew very well that a few of the seventh grade girls at William Gladstone Middle School were criers. They cried if they got a 67 on an algebra test or if they dropped their retainer into the trash in the cafeteria. They cried if their clay mug exploded in the kiln and when they couldn't finish the mile in gym. Two even cried in science, when Mr. Petrowski announced it was time to dissect a sheep's eyeball. Of course Emma-Jean had no intention of participating in such a barbaric and unhygienic activity. But crying was not a logical way to express one's opposition to the seventh-grade science curriculum.
Emma Jean is unique, no doubt about it. (You can tell that from the start. She has her own voice, her own way of seeing the world, of expressing herself.) But can she learn to be less logical and more compassionate? Can she use her powers of observation, her logic to help others, to make new friends, to keep old ones? Emma Jean has heart--I don't doubt that for a second--but can she learn how to interact better with others?
Set in middle school, it features students--some with bigger problems than others--all trying to do the best they can. (Yes, there's a bully or two, a mean girl or two, but there are plenty of nice students with friend-potential.)
I don't think I've done the book much justice at all. I think I've failed to communicate just how great a story it is. Emma Jean is someone you really should get to know--on her own terms of course! (There are two stories about Emma Jean now.)
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews