Book Review: Dear Emma

Dear Emma
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Page Count: 320
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Fiction

Harriet writes the “Dear Emma” advice column of her college’s student paper, and she excels at giving her readers the tough-love advice they need. When Harriet is ignored by Keith, the guy she had been dating, she finds out how hard it is to follow the advice she so willingly dispenses to others. To make things even more complicated, Keith begins dating Remy, Harriet’s new co-worker at the campus library. One guess as to who writes to Dear Emma for help… 

Within the first five pages of Dear Emma, I had developed the hugest crush on this book! I loved the witty back-and-forth between Harriet and her roommates, Logan and Mel. The exchange that ended with: “‘All I’m saying is that if you’re going to willingly participate in our society’s regressive mating rituals, the partner you select should at least bring some survival skills to the table,’ she continued. ‘Keith has no useful skills. He’s a philosophy major.’” (p.8) had me laughing myself to tears. As Harriet flashes back to her first encounters and dates with Keith, I felt giddy and swoony. 

Sadly, like most crushes, the infatuation didn’t last, and I could almost swear that Katie Heaney planned it that way. I loved the Dear Emma letters and Harriet’s responses, but I had a hard time feeling sympathetic to Harriet for the rest of the book. I don’t think I was prepared to fully immerse myself in a character who over-invests herself in a three week long relationship and broods over it for months after it was over. It’s not that it was unrealistic—I had periods like that in college—but that it was just unpleasant for me to read about it in detail. I am so grateful that I went through college before text messaging and social media! 

Dear Emma was a cute book with a welcome twist on the familiar Jane Austen Emma theme. I would recommend this book to younger adults who are a little closer to these experiences than I am, and to those who enjoy college dating horror stories.

Harriet, the author of her college newspaper's pseudonymous student advice column "Dear Emma," is great at telling others what to do, dispensing wisdom for the lovelorn and lonely on her Midwestern campus. Somehow, though, she can't take her own advice, especially after Keith, the guy she's dating, blows her off completely. When Harriet discovers that Keith has started seeing the beautiful and intimidating Remy, she wants to hate her. But she can't help warming to Remy, who soon writes to "Dear Emma" asking for romantic advice.

Now Harriet has the perfect opportunity to take revenge on the person who broke her heart. But as she begins to doubt her own motivations and presumably faultless guidance, she's forced to question how much she really knows about love, friendship and well-meaning advice.


  1. I read this one also and felt it was more high schoolish than college in my opinion. The best part of the books are the Dear Emma, agree......

  2. This sounds very very cool, and a different take on classic, so to speak! I like this, I really do -- good review!


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