What The Letting Go excels at is creating this tension, this almost thriller-like murder mystery with an intriguing lesbian protagonist.
Everyone Emily has ever loved has been brutally murdered. The killer has never been caught, but Emily knows who’s responsible.
It’s the only possible explanation. Emily is the one thing all the victims have in common, which can only mean that someone—or something—is killing them to make her suffer.
Determined never to subject another person to the same horrible fate as her parents, friends, and pets, Emily sequesters herself at a private boarding school, keeping her classmates at a distance with well-timed insults and an unapproachable air. Day after day, she loses herself in the writing of Emily Dickinson—the poet makes a perfect friend, since she’s already dead.
Emily’s life is lonely, but it’s finally peaceful. That is, until two things happen. A corpse appears on the steps of the school. And a new girl insists on getting close to Emily—unknowingly setting herself up to become the killer’s next victim.
TW: eating disorders
The ominous thriller tone is established from the very beginning. This undercurrent pulls you along the whole story, making you need to figure out who the killer is. The premise along gets you, but what ended up keeping me was the character of Emily. Emily is entirely intriguing because while the struggles of Emily are unique, the challenges she deals with are also universal – this fear of getting close to people.
Some of the things I find so enthralling about this book is the style of writing. There are journal entries and you have to keep asking yourself – is this real? Or is the journal filled with as many lies as real life? Is this a self-acknowledged lie? We are constantly asking ourselves what is real not only from an event perspective, but also a writing perspective. At the same time, most of this book is like one big ode to Emily Dickinson – in one of the best ways.
What kept me reading was Emily. She is an entirely spunky heroine who has built up all these walls to keep others safe, but at the same time – herself. While it is for the greater good, or so she tells herself, it results in her being an island. She doesn’t let herself get close to people for fear of hurting them – and also herself. She’s the girl I wish I could have been. Emily is quick witted and she’s not afraid to bite back, but also because of a defense mechanism. (I also 100% stayed for the LGBTQIA+ lesbian relationship – that was super cute and adorbs).
The Letting Go hovers in the border of confusion, whimsy, and tension. We are forced to ask what really happened as it is teased out to us in glimpses and reflected shadows, what is the truth? At the same time we ask ourselves, what is it to be loved, to be an island, to need comfort and company. In many ways, her own life mirrors Emily Dickinson.
Push people away because afraid of the risk of connection. Find The Letting Go on Goodreads today.