Cover Image: Em & Me

Em & Me

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Member Reviews

Relationships between mothers and daughters are not always straight forward, each trying to protect the other at times from hurt and pain.  Sometimes this means keeping secrets and burying the truth, even from oneself at times, for the greater good of others.
Em & Me is one of those books that is relatable, either as a mum or your mothers child...I found it very good at looking at things from both perspectives, doing both right and wrong things, always with validity.  Because it was relatable it made for an easy, swift and uncomplicated read, with twists and turns that you didn’t necessarily see coming.  It was at times life-affirming, joyful, devastating, sad...a roller coaster of real emotions that made the characters feel more genuine, and the scenarios more plausible.  This is the kind of book that you want to keep going with...you want to know about how things moved on and what the future would bring long after you’ve finished reading...a real gift when a writer can make you feel the sense of hope for good lives after less joyful turns of events.... I’m still rooting for Delphine, she’s had a tough deck of cards to deal with, but I have high hopes for the future for her and Beth Morrey..
Many thanks to NetGalley Uk for my review copy, this is my unbiased opinion
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I’m automatically attracted to the kind of storylines Beth Morrey’s Em and Me offers and in the past year in particular I’ve feasted upon a huge array of titles all promising the same thing; that I’ll find the content heartwarming, uplifting and joyous. Invariably I do but sometimes this type of fiction can be a trifle too lighthearted and/or frivolous for my liking. Em and Me isn’t like that. It is beautifully written, emotionally intelligent and nuanced, starring a character with whom I felt an affinity towards. What truly blew me away was the relationship between these characters and the sheer amount of love and friendship that exists within their circle. Some of these relationships really struck a chord with me. Em and Me is a novel about second chances and finding the confidence, however late in life, to achieve your dreams. It’s about grief and holding onto memories but ultimately not letting these memories hold you back. It’s about love in all its glorious forms and treading your own path to happiness and although  I would consider this novel to err on the more serious side of life at times, it is by no means depressing. I found this novel to be inspiring, hopeful and entertaining. It is tender, sweet, a little bit quirky, funny and yes, I’m afraid I can’t escape using those three adjectives, it is heartwarming, uplifting and joyous! But it has an element of mystery too which I also found appealing. This was definitely my cup of tea and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. 

Delphine (Fifi) Jones is a single mum living with her 12 year old daughter Em and her father who is consumed by grief over the loss of his beloved French wife Jojo. They are a close unit but money is extremely tight with Delphine working as a barista and cleaner, the only options open to a woman who dropped out of school aged 16, pregnant. Once a promising student herself, destined for great things, Em is following in Delphine’s scholarly footsteps, a chip off the old block as they say. All Delphine wants is for her daughter to succeed where she has failed, just like any other parent would. The sudden loss of her barista job is another blow on the financial front but strangely and serendipitously this is the point at which Delphine’s life takes an upward turn. Finding work as a waitress at Merhaba, an Eritrean coffee/bookshop run by Selassie and his wife Abrihet, Delphine’s world begins to open up, introducing her to like minded souls who together broaden her horizons, offering her the opportunities to live her best life.  

Divided into four sections according to the academic school year the storyline charts Delphine’s progress from a stressed out mum with an empty belly and an empty bank account to a woman embracing all life has to offer, fulfilling her true potential and rediscovering her passions. It goes backwards and forwards in time, enabling the reader to meet the younger Delphine, a star pupil besotted by English literature and experiencing romantic love for the first time. I loved this aspect of the novel, these insights clarifying Delphine’s reasons for her lack of confidence and self belief, for holding back, afraid to let go of the past. They made me love her just a little bit more. Like I’ve already said this is a novel concerned with the relationships that shape and define us, good and bad. Beth Morrey’s exploration of those that exit between mothers and daughters, between daughters and fathers, between teachers and pupils, between the old and the young is one of the biggest strengths of this novel. As a single mum to an only daughter I completely connected with Delphine and Em, instantly recognising that close, fierce bond they share. Despite the fact that life is hard, Em is the reason Delphine keeps on getting up in the morning, for Delphine is nothing if not brave and resilient. The love Delphine feels for her daughter knows no bounds and that resonated with me 100%. Meanwhile the dynamic between Delphine, her dad and Em is exquisitely observed and simply gorgeous. There can be no denying these three are a tight knit team. The way in which Delphine cares for her father, accepting that he has chosen to lock a part of himself away, his life bleached of all colour is both beautiful and heart rending. Time and again their interactions brought a lump to my throat. These emotional connections are really quite intense and none more so than the love still felt for Jojo, memories of whom linger everywhere, her ghostly presence felt in every corner of their lives. For this reason she is a hugely important character, whose role in Delphine’s metamorphosis equals that of any of the other characters, all encouraging Delphine to take a leap of faith.

That leads me nicely onto a discussion about the individuals who Delphine somewhat fortuitously crosses paths with. First mention goes to the generous hearted Selassie and Abrihet who welcome both Delphine and Em into their lives, cosseting and nurturing them like they would their own child or grandchild. These two hold a special place in my heart for the warmth,kindness and friendship they extend and the guidance they give to Delphine as she begins to find her feet again. There’s Em’s English teacher and former child actress Roz Gill who is another big influence in Delphine’s life, taking her under her wing, inspiring and encouraging her to resume her studies, finishing what she started all those years ago. Roz is also partly responsible for bringing music and singing back into Delphine’s life, introducing her to husband Sanjay and friend Dylan who are both musicians. Last but not least there’s the wonderful outrageous Letty, a widow searching for a French speaking companion and Delphine naturally fits the bill. They form a beautiful friendship, embarking on a French adventure of their own helping Delphine to not only reconnect with her mother’s roots but to learn how to find joy and pleasure once more. Letty brings the fun element to the table which is a welcome respite from the more serious stuff playing out behind the scenes.

I can’t compare Em and Me to Saving Missy because the latter is still languishing on my bookshelf (apologies to the author) but what I do know is I adored Delphine’s story. Beth Morrey takes you on an emotional journey with a novel that celebrates love, friendship and personal growth alongside characters who all have a positive impact on this young woman’s future self. Definitely life affirming and good for the soul Em and Me is a novel to hold dear. 

My thanks as always to the publisher HarperCollins and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read in exchange for an honest review.
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Delphine has always found it difficult to let go of the past. She more than others has good reason. Her mother died when Delphine was still a teenager, and she became a young mother to Em aged 17. She continually worries about her daughter, wanting to protect her from harm while keeping a secret that could ruin everything very, very close to her heart. But Delphine knows that to do this is only existing, not living. And she can remember living, opting for happiness and the things that made her smile. Singing, for example. Having friends. Realising memories can be positive as well as negative. Slowly, her life changes, becomes more vibrant and more hopeful as she embraces the good of what it has to give her. But will she take the chances she’s being afforded… and what about Em? Will she be strong enough to tell her daughter nothing but the truth? If you loved Beth’s debut Saving Missy, you will adore. I did.
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Em & Me is a book about grasping opportunities and taking second chances. It's also about friendships both old and new and how they give meaning to our lives.

Delphine's life had plenty of potential. She was destined for greatness. She was in the top group for English at school and expected to ace her A levels and go to a good university, but everything changed when she fell pregnant at the age of 16. Instead of having a high flying career and a comfortable life, she's working in a coffee bar, looking after her grieving father, and bringing up her talented but challenging 11-year-old daughter Em. Life is lived from one paycheque to the next and suddenly her main income disappears after an incident in the coffee bar. She has a part-time job cleaning a posh apartment but that has its own challenge in the shape of the owner's creepy cokehead son who's a bit handsy. 

Opportunities come knocking. Delphine is asked if she'll take on sessions of French conversation and companionship with elderly Lettie. She gets invited to join a band but is so nervous she's almost sick. And through her daughter's precocious talent at English, Delphine rekindles her love of literature and wants to study again.

For a woman who finds herself gathering dust on life's shelf in her late 20s, Delphine is initially reluctant to take on new challenges but as the book progresses, we experience the past that made her who she is, and the present that opens up a brighter future.

It's a lovely book filled with very lovely characters who become friends as you pass through the pages. It's a reminder that when we look back on our past, we shouldn't rule out expanding our present and future. There's a need to sometimes take stock of what we put to one side and ask ourselves whether we should pick it up again. 

Em and Delphine are a delight.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my copy.
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Delphine Jones is someone who feels as if she’s existing. Stuck in a job she doesn’t particularly like (working in a coffee shop) she does her best for her daughter, but as Em matures it highlights the things Delphine gave up on.
We are slowly introduced to Delphine’s life now, and learn about her as a teenager. We see how both she and her father have somewhat stagnated following the death of mother/wife, and how Delphine found herself abandoning her dreams once she got pregnant.
Potentially a most depressing subject, but there’s a warmth to this which carries you along. We see the importance of choices, and the need to be willing to open yourself to opportunities. There’s a strong cast of characters that aid Delphine in her journey of self-discovery, and though things might all end on a rather rosy note it certainly offers food for thought.
Thanks to NetGalley for giving me the chance to spend some time with Delphine and Em.
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Another proof I wrestled from the hands of the postman at work. Knowing that Beth is coming to Booka to do an event, and having loved her debut in lockdown, this was a must read. And I loved it. I love her writing, her characters and their development in the book. There is alot of kindness, a little French diversion, and all in all a very lovely tale which I loved. If there is one thing we have learned to value in the past 2 years it is the value of education and those in schools who keep it all going. Children learn more than reading and writing at school, friendships and inspirational teachers play an undefined role in our psychy as we grow into useful members of society. Beth recognises this in her tale of a single mum wanting the best for her daughter. I loved this book and I will very willingly chase the postman for any more books Beth writes!
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This book started out well but then slipped into a bit of tedium. It had a nice and satisfying storyline that just needed an injection of higher level interest to keep the reader wanting to know more.
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Superb! I liked saving Missy, but I love em and me. The characters are amazing and I love them all. 

The writing of this book is brilliant, as a reader I felt immediately pulled into the emotions of Delphine and was taken on a rollercoaster ride as she starts to make changes in her life.

I adored the character of Letty, and all that she taught Delphine. I felt like I was right there in Paris with them. I also loved the character of Dylan who was so relatable. 

All the characters were so vivid and brilliant, they jumped off the page and were all so easy to imagine in real life.

The story teaches us about ourselves, what is possible and what can happen when we allow ourselves to take a few risks and try new things.
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This book is about the choices we make. Delphine juggles with her waitressing job and looking after her daughter Em. She struggles with making ends meet and was a very young mum. I felt the characters were boring but the story line was promising but it did on. Not for me sadly.
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A wonderful book about choices and second chances, with the question "Can you be rich and poor at the same time?" at its heart.
Delphine Jones is juggling and struggling her job as a waitress, with the care of both her daughter and her grief stricken father, with the memories of her dead mother hovering around them. The three of them share a small two bedroom flat and life is not easy. 

I loved the relationship between Delphine and her daughter Em. The love and protection Delphine offers is heartening from a person with so much on her plate. Em is gifted and as Delphine does everything she can to help and encourage her, she begins to remember her own schooling and what she missed out on by having Em so young.

This book is a riot of colour and music, education and love; chock full with a rich cast of characters. A real uplifting and hopeful novel.

Thank you to NetGalley and to HarperCollins for the opportunity to read this early copy.
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Em & Me.
Delphine gave birth at the young age of 17. This novel let's you explore her feelings around the time of her birth and before. As it was a time of life and loss in a teenagers mind.

Delphine begins to remember what it's like to have more, she wants to rediscover her singing voice with the help of some friends. 

The novel is mainly about love, grief and second chances, which I liked however the story dragged for me and some of the characters were stilted and one sided.

Em & Me is a debut novel and in my opinion it shows. Its characters lack depth and at times and I don't think it's that uplifting. Sorry
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A life-affirming novel which I wanted to race through but also longed to savour, Em & Me is a story of motherhood, self care and second chances.
Delphine Jones hasn’t always had the easiest life, but is surrounded by love. Caring for her dad who’s been lost in grief since her beloved maman passed away when Delphine was just a young teenager, and her 11 year old daughter Emily, has left her stuck in the same routine - work at the cafe, cook dinner, look after her family, and start again the next day. 
Sensitive and intelligent Emily is thriving at school and Delphine is wondering what she might have missed out on when she dropped out of school early as a teen mum. 

This encouraging book teaches us that it’s never too late to make a change, life is rarely a straight line, and not only is it ok to ask for help, it’s usually welcomed with open arms. It reminded me to frequently take stock and not to let the important things get lost in our busy routines. You can always make time to do what you love. 

There are so many brilliant characters in this story, with all their lifelike quirks and flaws. 
Apart from Em, I particularly loved elderly Letty, a lonely pensioner with a very colourful past, who Delphine visits once a week to speak French together, and I also adored the lovely warm couple Selassie and Abrihet who run Merhaba cafe. 

This read felt like a warm hug!
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I really loved this book. Who knows what can happen when you make that one decision that sends your life down a particular path. What a wonderful relationship Delphine and Em have, they are wonderful characters, you can't help laugh and cry along with them, feel the frustration, pain and joy. All signs of a good book.
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When the story begins, Delphine’s life is difficult. It hasn’t turned out the way she wants, but she still has hopes and dreams for the future. The people that enter her life help her to realise that she can have the life she dreamed of. 

I loved the relationship between Delphine and her daughter. Sometimes it was difficult to work out who was the adult and who was the child, as Delphine was learning so much from her daughter as she opened up to new possibilities.

Every character put their best foot forward to try and change the things in their lives that make them unhappy. And their are some glorious characters in it - from Letty, the French speaking, feisty old woman to Em’s inspiring teacher.

I’m a firm believer that if one door closes, it makes room for another to open and this book encapsulated that belief. This book is so uplifting. It makes you realise that whatever dire situation you may be in, things can change - it will pass. 

A really heart warming and life affirming read that shows magic really exists among the people you meet.

A huge thank you to @netgalley  and @harpercollinsuk for gifting me this review copy
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A really lovely story going through a difficult time for Delphine and refinding herself amongst it all. Loved this and all the characters!
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A book about books, resilience, mothers and daughters and about finding belief in yourself whatever gets thrown at you along the way. Joyful and uplifting. I loved it.
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What a wonderfully uplifting story.

Delphine is a single mum and a carer to her father. Right away I adored this woman. Strong, courageous, a real role model for her daughter.

This novel highlight the struggles that many families face as well as the determination and bravery that can be shown when presented with such difficult circumstances.

I admired not just Delphine, but her entire family. The choices made weren't always easy but they were what seemed right for them. 

It definitely got me thinking about my own path in life and the decisions I've made along the way.

Joyous is how I'd describe Em & Me.

Simmering with hope, this is a story to make you think, to make you feel. One that will leave you smiling.

Hooray for Beth Morrey.
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I was eagerly awaiting this new novel from Beth Morrey and it didn't disappoint.   Totally believable and likeable characters that you really champion right from the start.  A wonderful read and one I didn't want to end.
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Delphine Jones is in her late twenties. Currently working as a waitress in a cafe she is struggling to make ends meet. Delphine shares a two bedroom basement flat with her 12 year old daughter, Em, and her father who seemed to stop living when his wife died tragically fifteen years previously. As we meet Delphine her life revolves around ensuring her daughter and her father are as comfortable as possible. Delphine has no consideration for herself, however fate has other things planned.

Delphine is a marvelous character, she's intelligent, beautiful, caring and hardworking. She's also pragmatic, resolute and lacks self-confidence. Life has dealt her a poor hand - her mother died when she was thirteen and her father simply gave up on life. At the age of sixteen, with the prospect of studying English Literature at Oxbridge, she fell pregnant to her boyfriend who then disappeared from her life. For twelve years Delphine accepted the hand that fate had dealt her. 

Thanks to a host of wonderful characters we see Delphine evolve. She begins to accept that life has more to offer and she has plenty to offer life. The key question through this beautiful novel is "can you be rich and poor at the same time?" and as we grow to know Delphine and Em we see that although money may be a struggle they are rich is friends, kindness and love.

As with Morrey's first novel, Saving Missy, this is a tale of how a community works together to save each other. Lives intertwined, accepting and encouraging, offering support without questioning. This really is a life affirming story.

This is also a book about books and a thanks to teachers who encourage and inspire young people every day.
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