When fourteen-year-old Emily is accused of stealing a valuable necklace from a local artist, she is determined to prove her innocence. Her dad and step-mom seem to believe Emily is guilty based on comments from two other teen girls, though no one searches Emily’s things. Despite the lack of support at home, Emily and her best friend Olivia decide to list suspects and investigate the case on their own. Before the necklace went missing, Emily’s parents promised her a new puppy she could train as a search and rescue dog, and now the only way Emily is going to get that puppy is to clear her name.
As the girls search for clues, they learn bits and pieces about people in their small town, but nothing seems to indicate the identity of the thief. More often than not, she learns things she ends up wishing she didn’t know. Like the fact that her mother, who has been in prison for the last six years following harm done to Emily’s brother, is eligible for parole. Her worries mounting, Emily busies herself volunteering to help the surf team before the upcoming championship and helping with search and rescue missions. When one mission inadvertently reveals who has possession of the stolen necklace, Emily is shocked and torn. After having suffered through weeks of gossip and accusation, she doesn’t want to rush into telling the sheriff what she knows, but keeping quiet would be wrong, too. Emily resolves to convince the thief to come forward voluntarily, but accomplishing this task turns out to be much harder than she thought.
Carroll and Coble have partnered in creating a pure, heartwarming tale of a young girl in a small town searching for her place in her family and her community, learning about personal and communal responsibility and how to have faith amidst scary situations. This is a nice, light read.
Emily battles fear of the legendary Windigo, a monster which supposedly prowls the woods near her home. She prays for protection and peace and is quick to instruct others not to believe in the legend or be frightened by it.
A boy drags Emily into an alley. Some scenes contain references to a past event in which a mother purposely withholds diabetic meds from her child to make him sick. It’s a little intense, but not precisely violent.