The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry

Young Adult - Mystery
252 Pages
Reviewed on 06/24/2023
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Author Biography

Rebecca Laxton is a dyslexia practitioner and award winning author. THE METAMORPHOSIS OF EMMA MURRY is her upper-middle grade debut, and was inspired by the Gen Z creators who’ve used technology to encourage us to take care of our planet. Rebecca has served school communities as an afterschool program director, teacher, reading specialist, and school psychologist. While working for Boone County Schools, she was named the Kentucky School Psychologist of the Year for collaborating with teachers and administrators to write and evaluate an emotional intelligence curriculum. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Charlotte Literary Arts, and the North Carolina Writers Association. Her short memoir, “Throw Like a Girl,” can be found in The Love of Baseball (McFarland 2017). She enjoys reading, writing and spending time in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, four kids, and three dogs.

    Book Review

Reviewed by David Korson for Readers' Favorite

Rebecca Laxton’s The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry is a contemporary page-turner that will resonate strongly with younger audiences. Emma and her friend Sophie are young teens who enjoy skateboarding, art, and, perhaps most of all, butterflies. In fact, as members of the Environmental Club, they can often be found planting flowers to help enhance the local monarch butterfly garden. However, Emma's love for the environment is tested when a celebrity family convinces many in the town that the economic boon from their planned ski resort is more than worth any damage it will cause to the local ecosystem. Torn between her blossoming relationship with the social media icon Jeb Scott and her deep love of nature, Emma must sort out her feelings to make the right decisions.

With an upbeat writing style, Rebecca Laxton crafts authentic characters that will make you cringe at the awkward moments when Emma meets Jeb, root for her friendship with Sophie, and cheer on her fight against a townful of opponents. In this heartening story of transformation, whether Emma is managing change in the community, change among friends, or within, she finds herself in numerous situations where she must adapt. The primary coming-of-age storyline is enhanced by an aura of paranormal mystery and a lighthearted romance, though neither strays from the book’s fresh and crisp, family-friendly tone. The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry is an entertaining and rewarding book about personal growth, the value of friendship, environmental awareness, and standing up for what is right.

Nino Lobiladze

Thirteen-year-old Emma and Sophie from Black Mountain, North Carolina, take care of the monarch butterfly garden and plant the milkweed necessary for the butterflies on the edge of extinction to thrive. But Mr. Zauber, a fellow monarch enthusiast, brought horrible news. The plans of building a ski resort on Paul’s Peak, a mountain near the town, have emerged, and the garden may be sacrificed to a parking lot. Emma and Sophie are devastated, but they lead the Environmental Club for a reason. After hearing a howl, Sophie hoped that a rare red wolf had returned to the nearby forest. The girls want to take a picture of the animal to draw the attention of the environmentalists and save Paul's Peak. It's not an easy task, as the wolf may wander near the Coopers' barn, which Emma considers haunted. Jeb Scott, an Instagram personality, and his dad, Chester, come to town. They stand behind the resort project, and Emma, who likes Jeb, hopes to persuade him to reconsider it. The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry by Rebecca Laxton is a meaningful read for young adult fans of mystery and adventurous prose with a supernatural twist.

This is a character-driven story and Rebecca Laxton creates many amazing characters. Emma has the mind of an artist and a very special vision. She sees those around her as colors, giving them respective and unique characteristics. The book focuses on Emma's character development, and we follow the unfolding events from her point of view. Describing Emma, Rebecca speaks about many traps and temptations a young person can encounter while growing up, and vanity is one. We see Emma struggling with contradicting feelings. She wants to befriend Jeb, who she secretly loves, but this new kid unwillingly threatens her friendship with Sophie, a strong-willed, down-to-earth girl whose role model is a well-known environmental activist, Greta Thunberg. This is an educational and empowering read. Rebecca explains the impact of monarch butterflies on the environment and our lives, sharing many incredible details about their life circle. Rebecca adds an exciting touch of paranormal to this wonderful story, entwining the legends of ancient times to the everyday life of Black Mountain. Beautifully illustrated by talented Gracie Laxton, The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry has a strong plotline full of twists and an unpredictable, thrilling ending.

Pikasho Deka

The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry is a young adult sleuth mystery by Rebecca Laxton. Having grown up in the picturesque small town of Black Mountain in North Carolina, thirteen-year-old Emma actively participates in organized events to protect the monarch butterflies and the endangered red wolves. However, with the arrival of Chester Scott and his son Jeb -- Emma's Instagram crush -- the monarch butterfly garden is under severe threat, as the Scotts want to build a ski resort at Paul's Peak. Alongside her best friend, Sophie, Emma starts gathering support from the town residents to stop the resort's construction. But the sighting of a likely werewolf complicates their plans. Furthermore, the authorities suspect Emma's father of being responsible for Jeb Scott's disappearance. Can Emma save the butterfly garden and clear her father's name?

Rebecca Laxton's environmental drama offers readers an enticing blend of mystery, suspense, and intrigue. The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry follows a group of young adults as they attempt to protect their local flora and fauna from being trampled upon by the downside of relentless ambition and greed. This is a particularly relevant issue for our times. Laxton's charming cast of characters and a plot flavored with a tinge of the paranormal makes the book an absolute blast to read. Emma and her friends make a formidable team with a clear sight of the goals they aren't hesitant to work for, and you can't help but root for them. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Emma lives in Western North Carolina among beautiful mountains and a butterfly garden. She jots down sketchbook definitions as she recreates art from the nature around her. Her favorite spots are Paul’s Peak and the monarch butterfly garden, and she and her friend, Sophie, visit them often. However, a famous actor, Chester Scott, and his Instagram-famous son, Jeb, visit the town to buy both pieces of land for a ski resort, increasing revenue but destroying the natural habitat. The town's fate lies in the hands of the community members who organize a town meeting to discuss rezoning. Jeb seems to like Emma, and she exploits his offer of friendship to convince him to change his father’s mind about the ski resort. Learn about the town’s old secret in The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry by Rebecca Laxton.

Rebecca Laxton has written a fun early teen novel that melds the beauty of nature, friendship, and science. Emma’s summer art journal reflects definitions that tie the book together at the end, and Gracie Laxton’s illustrations are lovely. The plot is clear, and the characters are so complex they could be real. Black Mountain is a real place, and the vibrant area and solid community members are related. Laxton’s words are especially poignant when one of her characters compares a monarch’s journey to a teen’s coming-of-age, threading the example into the book's title. The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry is a great selection for teen readers who enjoy modern stories about friendship and the environment, and it would be at home on any bookshelf and in public libraries.

Emma Megan

The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry by Rebecca Laxton is a remarkable young adult book. On their way home after watching the sunrise on the edge of Paul's Peak, way above Black Mountain, Emma and her best friend Sophie heard a wolf howling. Then Emma saw a shadowy figure in a barn where no one was supposed to be living. Sophie didn't believe in ghosts and didn't see anything, yet she heard the wolf. They could not believe that there was a red wolf on Paul's Peak. Red wolves are the most endangered canine in the world and one of the rarest mammals. They decided to sneak back to get evidence. Now that a mystery buyer wants to build a ski resort on Paul's Peak, they have more reasons to prove there is a wolf, as it might be the only way to keep the habitat of the monarch butterfly from being destroyed.

The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry is a profoundly inspiring book about friendship, werewolves, and keeping important species off the endangered list. Rebecca Laxton shares a great message about pollinators. This story captures the beauty and importance of butterflies to the ecosystem, people, food, and the future. It offers information about monarch butterflies and the environmental impact of their extinction to encourage readers to be part of preserving monarch habitats. I loved the butterfly metaphor about growing up, learning about the difference between a werewolf and a wolf-shifter, or the legend of Cuetlachtli. This fantastic book will appeal to nature lovers of all ages. It's also an excellent addition to any homeschool unit on butterflies.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

In The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry by Rebecca Laxton, Emma was on a quest to save the Monarch butterflies, complete her art project, and nurture a friendship with Jeb, an Instagram crush who had suddenly appeared in her hometown of Black Mountain. He seemed ideal online, but was he what and who he claimed to be? He and his dad were set on developing and destroying the local natural habitat for Monarch butterflies, and Emma couldn’t let that happen. Was it possible to convince him to change his mind and his course of action?

Rebecca Laxton’s young adult novel, The Metamorphosis of Emma Murry, is a mystery with engaging intrigue and ghostly encounters, coupled with a passion for the visual arts and the plight of the beautiful Monarch butterflies. The story follows Emma and her best friend, Sophie, as they explore the outdoors, work to save the butterflies, and solve one mystery after another, including a rather ghostly appearance. The narrative and dialogue are compelling and intriguing, certainly very believable, and readers will instantly be wrapped up in this unfolding tale. It’s a book you can’t put down. As the two best friends expand their horizons, they never venture far from each other and always find their way back to the friendship that bonded them from the day they were born. The underlying art theme with creative comments at the beginning of each chapter adds an interesting visual element to the story. Overall, a great read.