The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle (Review)

Thing with Feathers McCall HoyleEmilie Day believes in playing it safe: she’s homeschooled, her best friend is her seizure dog, and she’s probably the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim.

Then Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, and Emilie goes from studying at home in her pj’s to halls full of strangers. To make matters worse, Emilie is paired with starting point guard Chatham York for a major research project on Emily Dickinson. She should be ecstatic when Chatham shows interest, but she has a problem. She hasn’t told anyone about her epilepsy.

Emilie lives in fear her recently adjusted meds will fail and she’ll seize at school. Eventually, the worst happens, and she must decide whether to withdraw to safety or follow a dead poet’s advice and “dwell in possibility.”

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When Emilie Day’s mother forces her to attend high school after years of homeschooling, she’s convinced her life is over. She was perfectly content with hanging out in her PJs with her service dog as her friend, occasionally hanging out with the little girl next door.

The last thing she wants to do is hang out with a bunch of teenagers who view her as a freak because of her epilepsy. What if she has a seizure and embarrasses herself?

Yet, despite her best efforts, a couple students manage to penetrate the wall Emilie builds around herself.

This book was a delightful surprise for me. I loved Emilie’s sarcastic edge to the thoughts and comments she (mostly) keeps to herself. She’s struggling with the loss of her father, her illness, and being forced into a world she wants no part of. When she opens herself up just a little, there is the smallest light in her dreary life and you want it to grow.


Yes, McCall Hoyle uses some familiar high school clichés—Emilie even notes them through movie references—but those are quickly dispelled as Emilie gets to know her fellow classmates better.

This book is about living, about friendships, first loves, and family. It’s about letting go of anger and fear and believing there’s more to life and reaching for it. A wonderful and uplifting debut novel for readers looking for clean YA fiction.

My Rating:

***I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. 

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