While still at school, sixteen-year-old Emmie Blue releases a balloon with a message tied to it. Against all the odds, it is found by Lucas on a beach in Normandy and he makes contact with her. Fast forward fourteen years and Emmie is shattered when Lucas announces he is getting married and wants her to be his ‘best woman’; she had been hoping that he was going to propose to her. Having been made to feel so welcome by Lucas and his family, Emmie has perhaps misread the situation as her own family are so dysfunctional.
Lia Louis has written well-rounded, believable characters. They are not all good or all bad, but flawed individuals just like in real life. When the initial shock has worn off, Emmie starts to re-evaluate her past. Her eyes are opened, and she discovers she is not the helpless victim she always thought she was; she has an inner strength and can cope with whatever life throws at her. By the end Emmie also sees Lucas in a different light – as he actually is – not the idealized version she has carried in her head for so long.
I love the humorous exchanges with her friends, Rosie and Fox, who also work with her in the hotel, and have her best interests at heart. Her landlady, Louise, helps her come to see that she already has somewhere to call home. As the past is slowly revealed, we realize that everything did not happen the way Emmie thought it did, and that Eliot is one of the good guys.
Set between France and a seaside town on the south coast of England, Dear Emmie Blue would make a great romantic comedy film. I really enjoyed it and will be looking out for other books by Lia Louis in the future.
Thanks to Orion and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.