Emily lives with her parents. All three of them inhabit the same house, but they are all so private and solitary. They stopped being a family long ago and have since retreated into their own self-contained bubbles. Emily talks of feeling like a ghost in her own home. And as we read on, we can understand why she feels this way. There is very little communication, especially between Emily and her mother. The only contact she has with her father are bursts of anger and recriminations. It’s a lonely world for Emily. She has her best friend, Billy, but she refuses to rely on him or let him help her most of the time.
I think this is partly why she truly comes alive when she meets Dylan. She has trouble believing that this remarkable, handsome and amusing boy wishes to spend time with her. She compares herself to the other local girls; deeming them probably more interesting and fun than she is. Emily is used to spending time alone, often hiding and avoiding her parents.
She often fantasises about what it would have been like to have been part of a different family, and this causes a painful knot of sadness and guilt inside her. Dylan changes her life so rapidly. She goes from haunting her house in silence to wanting to spend every waking moment with her new, mysterious boyfriend. He brings her hope and he makes her feel so much better about herself.
Here’s an excerpt from Black Eyed Boy:
There were plenty of people nearby taking photographs of the old historic church. I watched a cute family pose on a bench, three little blonde girls with curly hair, they all shared the same face as their mother. The father captured the moment with his camera and they descended the stairs with lively chatter.
I felt a little knot inside me. It was always there, but sometimes it got tighter and gave me a stomach ache. I didn’t like that about myself, that envy could stir so easily and that I let it get the better of me. I hated that I felt sorry for myself. I knew full well that so many people had it worse than I did. I just wished that I was one of those cherubic little girls with the mum and the dad and the siblings, with the communication and sense of family that they had.