Dear Emma by Katie Heaney

Dear EmmaDear Emma by Katie Heaney
Published by Grand Central Publishing

From the publisher:

Harriet, the author of her college newspaper’s pseudonymous student advice column “Dear Emma,” is great at telling others what to do, dispensing wisdom for the lovelorn and lonely on her Midwestern campus. Somehow, though, she can’t take her own advice, especially after Keith, the guy she’s dating, blows her off completely. When Harriet discovers that Keith has started seeing the beautiful and intimidating Remy, she wants to hate her. But she can’t help warming to Remy, who soon writes to “Dear Emma” asking for romantic advice.

Now Harriet has the perfect opportunity to take revenge on the person who broke her heart. But as she begins to doubt her own motivations and presumably faultless guidance, she’s forced to question how much she really knows about love, friendship and well-meaning advice.

This book was so much fun! It was almost a one-sitting book for me, which almost never happens these days. And the ONLY reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting was because I had to stop reading to cook dinner and hang out with my husband. I promptly finished reading it the next morning, so a two-sitting book it ended up being. But still – a two-sitting book almost never happens lately, either!

I’m not going to lie and say that Dear Emma deals with subjects in any depth or is something to be taken seriously – it’s basically a few girls in college thinking and talking endlessly about their problems involving schoolwork and boys. BUT IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. I liked all of the characters, but truthfully the only character the reader really gets to know is Harriet, as the entire book is told from her first-person point of view. And so much of what happens is Harriet thinking over a situation to DEATH. But that’s what happens when life is: class, studying, watching TV, drinking, sleep, repeat. With a tiny bit of work thrown in there for some people. I think that Heaney captured the college experience, for most people, incredibly well and I think many college students will relate to the book. I also think many people who have been in college will relate to the book in a nostalgic manner.

Personally, I both related to the book and did not relate at all. I related because I also went to college in central Illinois (ISU, which is a school they refer to in the book several times) so location-wise the book felt extremely familiar to me. I didn’t relate because the characters in the book are all relatively privileged when it comes to their financial situations and I did not have that experience. When I was in college, I worked multiple jobs at once in order to pay tuition, housing, food, etc. – I simply didn’t have the parental support finance-wise that the girls in the book enjoy. I never really had the experience of waking up on a Sunday at 10:30 a.m. with nothing to do but watch TV all day because I had a job to go to most mornings if I wasn’t in class. But as I said – I enjoyed the book a lot! Just because my college experience was different from the one portrayed in the book doesn’t make it anything other than different.

Hmm, I’m realizing I don’t have a ton more to say about Dear Emma. Just that I liked it a lot, will definitely read more from this author, and it was fun. Did I mention I almost read it in one sitting? Oh yeah, I did. Anyway – fun book! Read it if you like this kind of thing.


9 thoughts on “Dear Emma by Katie Heaney”

  1. It was fun, wasn’t it? Her college experience isn’t anything like mine was — I was pretty miserable in college, for reasons both situational and chemical (I wasn’t high! I was depressed. brain chemistry? does that work?) — but the way this book depicts female friendship felt so right to me. Not the talking about boys (my God these kids talk about boys way more than I talk to my friends about boys), but just the way you can talk to your friends about really stupid shit and you’re all just doing it because you enjoy each other’s company and make each other laugh. That was a neat thing, and something I don’t see reflected in fiction all that much.

    1. HAHAHA – “I wasn’t high!”

      Yes I totally agree about the female friendship thing. I wrote my review before I listened to you guys talk about it on the podcast, and as you were saying that I was all “yes yes yes, so true” about the whole talking to girlfriends about nothing stuff. I agree about the talking about boys thing – I’m an old married lady now, but I don’t remember talking about boys anywhere near this much when I was in college. Or with my single friends now. It was a bit much.

      P.S. Do you watch or have you ever watched the TV show Friends? That’s another example, I think, of friendship being depicted in the same way, where they just talk about stupid, nothing stuff but it’s always fun and funny because they just like being around each other and making each other laugh.

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