What Would Emma Do?

Paperback | December 30, 2008

byEileen Cook

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Thou Shalt Not Kiss Thy Best Friend’s Boyfriend...again...

There is no greater sin than kissing your best friend’s boyfriend. So when Emma breaks that golden rule, she knows she’s messed up big-time...especially since she lives in the smallest town ever, where everyone knows everything about everyone else...and especially since she maybe kinda wants to do it again. Now her best friend isn’t speaking to her, her best guy friend is making things totally weird, and Emma is running full speed toward certain social disaster. This is so not the way senior year was supposed to go.
Time to pray for a minor miracle. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time for Emma to stop trying to please everyone around her, and figure out what she wants for herself.

“Sassy and sly and sweet all at the same time, this book made me laugh out loud.” --Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries and Airhead

“Not since Judy Blume’s Margaret introduced herself to God has there been such a funny, genuine, conflicted, wanna-be-sorta-good-maybe-later girl as Emma. Cook’s tone as she takes on the big ones—life, love, faith, and friendship—is pitch perfect.” --Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Midnight Twins and The Deep End of the Ocean

"Smart and fun and full of heart." --Sarah Mlynowski, author of Bras & Broomsticks and How to Be Bad

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From the Publisher

Thou Shalt Not Kiss Thy Best Friend’s Boyfriend...again... There is no greater sin than kissing your best friend’s boyfriend. So when Emma breaks that golden rule, she knows she’s messed up big-time...especially since she lives in the smallest town ever, where everyone knows everything about everyone else...and especially since she may...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7 × 5 × 0.9 inPublished:December 30, 2008Publisher:Simon PulseLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1416974326

ISBN - 13:9781416974321

Appropriate for ages: 14

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from What Would Emma Do? The story is set in a small town: Wheaton, Indiana, where Emma Proctor attends a private Christian high school. In school, Emma and her classmates are expected to question everything with “What would Jesus do?” Emma thinks that sitting around to discuss WWJD is a waste of time. Emma is hoping for a sports scholarship to attend a university away from Wheaton. She has only applied to one, Northwestern, hoping beyond hope that she will be accepted on her track scores. She doesn’t like the small town atmosphere where everyone gossips and knows each others’ personal business. If they don’t know what’s going on, stories are fabricated. Emma has always been comfortable with Colin Stewart, her guy friend, the next door neighbour who grew up with her. She’s never worried about saying the wrong thing, as he always seems to know what to say at the right moment or understand her moods. From an early age it had been suggested that when they grew up they would get married. But Emma’s plans had always been to leave Wheaton, and she had no reservations about Colin dating her best friend, Joann. But before Emma can leave Wheaton, there is the Christmas kiss with Colin to clear up. The kiss Joann’s mother was witness to. Emma questions Joann’s ‘forgiveness’, knowing Joann would be uncomfortable about Colin hanging out with her. But the real question is why Colin kissed her. It is this question that haunts Emma enough to impulsively ask Colin to take her to a party at “The Barn” located in the countryside. It is at the Barn where Colin and Emma witness a situation that carries consequences, and those engaged in it were unaware they were present. When Colin takes Emma home this excerpt from the book sums up the kiss at Christmas where Colin tells Emma it wasn’t a mistake and that he thinks he really likes her: “I don’t know. I’m not trying to piss you off, but I feel that I have to say something. I’ve liked you for as long as I can remember. I liked you since before I fully understood what it meant, but you were always so clear about wanting to be friends, just friends, that I never said a thing. Heck, I half convinced myself that I didn’t care. That I was fine with that. Besides, even if you liked me, I knew the relationship wouldn’t go anywhere. You’ve talked about leaving since you understood there was a road out of town. But I think I never stopped liking you. I felt like you should know. Then I kissed you, and you kissed me back.” Colin looked over at me. “You did kiss me back.” When classmates begin passing out at school Emma knows why and who is behind it, and wants to report it. Colin reminds her that being at a party where there was alcohol would get her kicked off the track team, and there goes her scholarship. Also, Joann would find out they had been together. Emma fears the worst when the town begins a witch hunt to find out who is ‘poisoning’ the high school students. A mob mentality develops when they begin to target students who are considered “loners”. Soon it becomes a “crime” to be different and Emma sees the hypocrisy in the town residents. How long will Emma let this go on? How many innocent people have to get hurt before she steps up and does the right thing? This book covers the full range of emotions, because those teenage years have many situations packed into them – body changes, boys/girls, dating, social norms, grades, and growing up. When parents or older adults tell teenagers those years are the best of their lives, I think they have really forgotten how anxiety ridden they were. Not everyone has a smooth growth period during the teenage years. For some it was a horror they would prefer to forget. Emma’s comments and thoughts are hilarious while she tests the waters around her. It’s a normal, healthy attitude toward the challenges of life. She’s smart, insecure, and a non-conformist; but is focused on her goal to leave Wheaton. Emma finds it scary in her search to find integrity in her life with others, while learning it is more important than many other things. Each chapter starts with a journal entry where Emma talks to God over difficult choices and her faith. These journal entries were very amusing, thought provoking and entertaining. Emma learns a fundamental lesson about asking God for help and receives an answer in a dream. Eileen Cook has created characters that are believable, and she has teenage angst down pat. What Would Emma Do? is a book that had me laughing out loud. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read…regardless of one's age
Date published: 2009-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable Wheaton is your typical small town. Backwater, religious and it's the type of place where everyone knows everything about you. Emma, the protagonist, finds the town confining and feels constricted in its limits. A fact which is emphasized when she makes the mistake of kissing her best friend's boyfriend, Colin. With that kiss, Emma's life is thrown into chaos. Emma's plan has been to win a full-tuition scholarship to Northwestern for track. Except, suddenly, that is thrown into question when her best friend, Joann, and the pastor's daughter both fall ill and the words "terrorism and satan" begin to be thrown around at everyone who is different. And Emma is most definitely not your typical Wheaten-er. But she's not the only one, Todd, one of the few Jewish people in town, is targeted and accused. Emma, who knows the reason behind the illness is pressed to come forward, at the risk of losing her scholarship to Northwestern. And that's when Emma has to ask, "What would Emma Do?" I picked up this book expecting a light-hearted, yet barbed, story about a small-town and a teen's desire to be free and rebel. And that is precisely what I got. Eileen Cook creates a setting where religion is almost everything and where things almost seem to move backward, not forward. The place is at complete odds with Emma, who is quirky and longs for a place where not everyone knows her name. Emma's conversations with God, snippets of which are at the start of each chapter, flesh out her character in full. And they're amusing to read. Some may find the tone disrespectful, but, in my opinion, the conversations are charming and they come across as a conversation that a teen would possibly consider having with God. Overall, Emma's character was one that I could sympathize with and understand. While some of her mistakes were atrocious, I could see where she was coming from and relate to what she was feeling. Other characters are also vital to the story such as Joann, Colin, Todd and Emma's mother, for example. However, I felt that some of the development was a bit lacking. Joann's actions were believable and explained and her character came across well. However, Colin's character felt a bit inconsistent at times. I do think a bit more dimension could have been added to the secondary characters. However, I do like how Eileen Cook presented opinions that opposed Emma's. She didn't present a judgemental view on those who want to settle, who like familiarity. Too often, both sides of an issue are not considered fully and fairly and I like how Eileen Cook presented characters who readers can relate to who want to stay in the town. Overall, What Would Emma do is an enjoyable read. It presents the topics of religion, growing up and the overall angsty existence of teenagers in a light and fun manner, making it a book I would whole-heartedly reccommend.
Date published: 2009-07-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Alright After reading the description on the back of the novel, I thought the book seemed pretty good and like a normal teen novel, but once I started reading, it was different than I expected it to be, and not necessarily in a good way. I thought a warning should have been given out or something because a lot of the book could be considered part of religion and depending on your take, it may make the book more or less enjoyable. Plus, the description was kind of misleading in many ways. Before the description, I thought I might give my opinion on the ending. It was pointless! Nothing was really solved and the book just sort of ended! I thought the book was going to be better, but it disappointed me..... Emma lives in a rural, religious town where everyone knows each other and will remain there for the rest of their lives- but Emma hates it and just want to leave to go to some place where some excitement happens. She's tired of her small-town life and hopes that she'll get a track scholarship to Northwestern. Her friend Joann hasn't truly forgiven her for kissing her boyfriend Colin, whom Emma has known since she was a toddler, and Emma feels on the blip of the social radar- the one to only really talk to her has been Todd, a social outcast (for several silly reasons such as him being of a different religion than the others at Trinity Evangelical Secondary and 'cause he doesn't talk much). One night after sneaking out with Colin to talk, she sees two popular girls, Darci and Kimberly, at a party where there's alcohol (and drugs, I think). The next day,Kimberly ends up at the hospital and soon Darci also collapses. Though the girls recover, more and more popular girls are suddenly collapsing and no one knows why. Emma has a suspicion but she can't say what really happened because her scholarship would be at risk. No one knows that she saw Darci and Kimberly at that party, even though everyone else thinks they were only at home. She doesn't know what to do,especially since it's soon Todd and the rest of the kids who aren't so 'social' that are taking the hit, with suspicion raising by the townsfolk that they're responsible. Lately Emma's taken to asking God what he would do in her place as she tries to figure out what to do with her life and the situation around her. But she's also questioning that faith, something that the people in her town don't like. Ultimately, Emma has to figure out what she would do....not God.
Date published: 2009-05-13

Extra Content

Read from the Book

God, I've been thinking about our relationship. The way I see it, most people look at you as either (a) a Santa Claus figure they pray to only when they want something, their wishes granted depending on if they are on the naughty or nice list, or (b) a bearded vengeance seeker who gets his immortal jollies from smiting those who annoy him. It occurs to me I've been talking to you my whole life and I don't really know who you are. In fairness, I've always relied on formal prayers, which really haven't given you a chance to get to know me, either. I'm thinking we need a bit more honesty in our relationship -- you strike me as the kind to support honesty -- so from here on I'm just going to tell you what's on my mind. We spend a lot of time at Trinity Evangelical Sec- ondary discussing "What would Jesus do?" You have to wonder how the Son of God finds himself in so many ethically questionable situations. I'm guessing he hangs out with a bad crowd. We've covered how Jesus feels about: • low-rise jeans (negative) • underage drinking (although this is the same man who brought us wine transformed from water, we've decided he would just say no) • gossip (to be avoided -- which goes to show he would never make it in Wheaton, where gossip has been perfected to near Olympic levels) All in all, the Son of God is coming across as a very no-fun kind of guy. I prefer to see him as not so uptight. This puts me in the minority here, where the motto for our church could be "Trinity Evangelical: Sitting in judgment on others since 1849." At the moment we were supposed to be discussing in great detail, as if this is an issue the president of the United States might need to consult us on, what Jesus would do if he accidentally came across the answers to the math test before the exam. Everyone stared off into space, pondering how our savior might handle this tricky situation. I left the issue of exam ethics to my capable classmates and went back to trying to get my best friend Joann's attention. I risked a look over my shoulder at her. Mr. Reilly, our religion teacher, has been known to hurl erasers at the heads of students he feels aren't paying attention, so being subtle was key. Joann was either ignoring me or in a catatonic state. I gave a fake cough to draw her attention. Nothing. I coughed again, this time drawing it out as if I might be in the final stages of TB, but not even a glance. Darci Evers raised one perfectly manicured hand in the air. Darci looks like she jumped out of a spread in Seventeen and the teachers always talk about how she makes a great role model, but don't be fooled. She's the kind of person who laughs if you trip in the cafeteria. If your mom forces you to wear the sweater your nearly blind grandmother knit for you, she gives a brittle, thin smile and says, "Nice sweater." Then her posse of friends giggle. In elementary school she dotted the i in her name with bubbles and hearts. "If Jesus saw the test before the exam, he would tell the teacher and ask for a new test, one where he didn't know the answers," Darci said. She paused, her head cocked to the side as if she was getting direct communication from heaven. "Our Lord doesn't like cheaters." I fought the urge to roll my eyes. The rest of the class all nodded, seemingly relieved to have this conundrum solved and Christ no longer at risk for blowing the hell out of the bell curve. Mr. Reilly smiled. He adores Darci Evers. "Excellent answer." I raised my hand. Mr. Reilly's smile withered. "God is all-knowing, right?" I asked. "Yes, Emma. He knows everything, what you've done and even what you will do." Mr. Reilly took this moment to look out over the classroom in case anyone had evil or impure thoughts in their hearts. I looked to see if Joann was following my line of intellectual debate. Joann has never been a huge Darci fan, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to remind her that we had this in common. "So if God knows everything, won't he know what questions the teacher is going have on the new test too?" Mr. Reilly's head started to turn red, and I could see the vein in his forehead bulge. For a guy so close to Jesus, he has a lot of repressed rage issues. "Are you trying to be smart?" Mr. Reilly said. I hate questions like this. There is no right answer. If you say you are trying to be smart, you get in trouble for being a wiseass, and if you say you're not, you're admitting to being stupid. It's what they call a lose-lose situation. What would Jesus do if faced with this question? I'm guessing he would go for honesty, but Jesus didn't have to worry about getting lower than a C in class and losing his track eligibility as a result. "No, sir," I answered. Mr. Reilly gave a snort and turned back to the board. Darci shot me a look of annoyance and raised her hand again. Joann still wasn't paying any attention to me. "Mr. Reilly, do you mind if I make an announcement? It's related to student council business," Darci said. Darci never misses an opportunity to make an announcement. She finds excuses in nearly every class to take center stage. I suspect that if it were up to her as senior class president, she would get to wear a small crown or sash to denote her overall superiority. I'm shocked she doesn't demand that the rest of us scatter palm fronds on the floor in front of her as she walks through the halls. "As everyone knows, the big spring dance is coming up in just a few weeks, and we still need volunteers to help with the decorations. This year we've selected the theme 'Undersea Adventure.' Please show your school spirit by helping to make this a great event. Even if you haven't been asked to the dance, you could still decorate. We'll be accepting nominations for king and queen for the next two weeks, and the three couples that get the most votes will be announced as the court. The queen and king will be announced at the dance." "I nominate you," Kimberly said so quickly she must have bumped her nose on the way to kissing Darci's ass. Darci placed a hand on her heart as if she were overcome by the honor. "Why, Kimberly, thank you so much! I feel a bit funny about putting myself down on the list, but if you insist." She pulled out her pink gel pen to inscribe her name before she forgot it. "Why do we even have a king and queen?" I asked. "We've always had a king and queen of the spring dance. It's tradition," Darci shot back. "Maybe it's time for a new tradition." As the challenge shot out of my mouth, I couldn't tell who was more surprised, Darci or me. It felt like the air was sucked out of the room for a second as people held their breath, waiting for Darci to whack me back down to size. At least I had Joann's attention now. "You can't have a new tradition. Then it's not tradition, it's the opposite; it's new," Darci said, giving me a look, as if shocked that someone of my low intelligence was even allowed in school. I slunk down in my seat. "What would Jesus do?" asked Todd. The entire class turned around to face him. Todd Seaver is the guy in our class who never says anything. There have been rumors that he's an elective mute. Todd has the dubious honor of being from "away," a non-Wheaton native. "What are you talking about?" Darci asked. "Would Jesus approve of people setting themselves above others? Sounds like false gods." "It's not like that at all. Besides, you're Jewish, how would you even know what Jesus would do?" There was a gasp. It's an unwritten rule that we don't bring up Todd's Jewishness. In a town that is all born-again, his religion is like a deformity, one of those things everyone is painfully aware of and tries to act like they don't notice. "He was one of the tribe when he started out, you know," Todd said. "I'm thinking he would see the whole king and queen thing as a bunch of false idols, golden calves." He gave Darci a lazy half smile and then looked over at me. I slunk farther down in my seat, not meeting his eyes. If I went any lower I would slide completely out of the chair and onto the floor. Part of me was glad someone else was standing up to Darci. I just wished the person I was aligned with wasn't the class pariah. "Interesting point," Mr. Reilly said, tapping his thin fingers on his Bible. He adored Darci, but stamping out fun was his favorite thing in the world. "It's tradition," said Darci, her voice cracking. "I think we need to discuss the dance at the next advisory board meeting," Mr. Reilly said as the bell rang. Darci's mouth opened and shut silently like a fish flopping on a dock. A fish with pink-bubble-gum-scented lip gloss. Everyone got up and moved toward the door. I stood up and grabbed my bag. Darci bumped into my back. "Way to go, Emma," she hissed, shoving past me. "Yeah, way to go," Kimberly parroted, following two steps behind her. Joann walked up next to me, and I gave her a smile. "My mom already bought me a dress for the dance," she said, crossing her arms. "Why can't you leave some things alone?" She walked away without another word. Recent events, combined with years of religious study, have clarified for me that at the ripe age of seventeen, I am pretty much already damned to hell. Let's recap: The Seven Deadly Sins • Gluttony: I have, on more than one occasion, eaten the entire gut-buster ice-cream sundae at the Dairy Hut that you get for free if you can finish it. What can I say? I run a lot; I get hungry. • Greed: I have a passion for my running shoe collection that others might reserve for the members of a boy band. It's not just fashion; it's also about function. • Sloth: Every time my mom sees the state of my room, she is compelled to say, "If you're waiting for the maid to come along, you've got a long wait ahead of you." Then she sighs deeply, like being my mother is her burden in life. • Wrath: I detest Darci Evers, and if I had the opportunity it is quite likely I would replace her shampoo with Nair. • Envy: I would give just about anything, including possibly my soul, to run like Sherone Simpson (ranked number one in the world for the hundred meters). • Pride: I won the state championship last year for hurdles and plan to repeat this year. I've been accepted to Northwestern, and if I can nail down a track scholarship, I've even got a way to pay for it and a way out of town. • Lust: I kissed my best friend's boyfriend over Christmas break. Yep, it's pretty much the last one that's going to do me in. Copyright © 2009 by Eileen Cook

Editorial Reviews

"Cook keeps this book fresh with her smart and sassy protagonist....Emma’s moral struggles and subsequent questioning of her born-again faith are touching and sincere. Fans of chick lit will appreciate this book." --SLJ