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Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things - Kathryn Burak This book is a complete gem. I almost missed out on reading it, myself, but I am so glad that I didn't. You've got the perfect mix of a rich, layered story, solid and unique characters, and a nice bit of mystery worked in. Claire is not a simple girl and she doesn't have such a happy past. I really enjoyed viewing things from her perspective and seeing her way of coping with life and the things it throws at her. We don't find out everything about her all at once, nor am I really sure we ever know exactly what has made her who she is by the end of the story, but I love the way her story unravels and pieces of her start to come together. She certainly has a hard time letting people in and when Tess befriends her, it certainly took a while for Claire to appreciate the friendship and realize that she really was something good in her life. I think the contrast between them added so much to the story. Tess loves love and all of the things it adds to life, while Claire remains cautious of most things and tends to dwell on the bad things that have happened in her life. Sam Tate, what to say about him? Initially, he comes off as kind of a jerk. Then we find out he is, in fact, a student teacher in Claire's class and he has a penchant for arguing with her. So it certainly took me a bit to warm up to him, but as we get to know him a little better, it became a little clearer to me why he was that way at first. Claire does some pretty crazy things during the book and Tate shows up for her time and time again. Pretty noble, considering he doesn't really know anything about her. Claire is determined to find out what really happened to her best friend Richy and Tate seems to be determined to help her. I had never read any of Emily Dickinson's work, but the way Kathryn works Emily's poetry, along with words written by Claire, into the story tied everything together so beautifully. It gave the book a little something extra and gave me the urge to go out and get some of Emily Dickison's stuff right away. This book took me completely by surprise and has cemented itself a place on my all time favorite books shelf. It's a quiet kind of amazing and I urge everyone to give it a read. There are no monsters or evil dictators, but it does possess magic :0)