Nobody's Secret - Michaela MacColl


I won a free paperback copy through a First Reads Giveaway in order to give an honest review.


As a fan of Emily Dickinson, Nobody's Secret was an instant grab for me. I feel in love with her work while learning about it in school and was soon perusing it on my own time. The opening scene had me literally d’awwing and giggling. I was totally regressed to when I first connected to Emily Dickinson so long ago.

Nobody's Secret is young adult, geared towards the younger end of the spectrum. On the back, it states for those 12 and up, but I could see myself reading it before then. Since teens usually like reading about those a few years older than them, this works well for the under 15 crowd.

Of course, that doesn’t mean it won't work for the older crowd as well. I’m proof positive it does and heartily recommend it for lovers of Emily Dickinson and for fans of the historical, mystery, or young adult genres.



The Emily Dickinson portrayal


She's the reason I picked up Nobody’s Secret in the first place, so it's vitally important Dickinson gets the proper treatment. It's achingly beautiful and poignant. Obviously, this is just MacColl’s vision of Emily Dickinson but it’s well research and grounded.



Dickinson’s poetic and written voice that speaks to so many is well represented here. It’s like you can hear the cogs in her head working on not just on the mystery but crafting those well-loved poems. Young Emily Dickinson in Nobody’s Secret sounds like a natural beginning for the world renown poet.


The Romance and Intrigue

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!


How dreary – to be – Somebody!

How public – like a Frog – 
To tell one’s name – the livelong June – 
To an admiring Bog!

-Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886


Emily and Mr. Nobody's exchanges are brief to keep his nickname from becoming a misnomer quickly, since that's the point of the poem and mystery. However, it's clear they have a connection, a spark, from their first meeting. It's well done and does the spirit of Dickinson's I'm Nobody poem justice. It's not a full-fledged romance obviously, but I enjoyed their dreamy flirtation. It brought back memories. It's as innocent as Emily and even if nothing came of it, I could see them becoming friends. If only he'd lived. :(


The Mystery


Nancy Drew Set from Amazon: $350It's refreshing to read a common sense version of a small town mystery after all the convoluted thrillers and quirky cozies. Nobody's Secret reminds me of all the Nancy Drew books I devoured growing up. (I had them all in the yellow flashlight hardcovers. #bowdown)

The experienced readers might follow the trail of clues before amateur sleuths but if you’re caught up in Emily’s narration, it’s quite easy to go with the flow and enjoy it. That’s what happened to me and I was pleasantly surprised at the way it ended.





Nobody's Secret accurately shows instead of tells. From attire to wagons, it’s painted in a way that really captures and transports you, like stepping out in the morning to find yourself in 1845. I can’t stress how well MacColl researched for this book. There's several pages in the back describing how she grew the story from the facts and where she deviated: Emily Dickinson never investigated a murder and the letter from Emily’s father, while based on the style of his real letters to home, was fictional. It’s clear how passionate she is about Emily Dickinson.


Bottom Line:

Amazing 5 stars

I can’t think of a single drawback in Nobody’s Secret.

Recommended for:

lovers of Emily Dickinson and for fans of historical, mystery, or young adult genres. Or just try it anyways. :3