In an interview at the end of the book, the author discusses only the historical setting of the story, (a New England sea coast village,) and how important whaling was to that area. That bewildered me, as the story carries a subtle but sure message. Emily is obviously most happy being herself and helping others than when she is trying and failing to be something she was not: quiet. At first Emily is viewed by those around her as flawed, in that her voice is simply too loud. But the story takes us through the process of Emily finding a way to turn what makes her different into something useful and beneficial to others. In the end, though never stated as such, her volume is viewed as a gift.
My children both love this book, probably because I yell whenever I read Emily's lines! But someday I hope they will love embracing and using their own unique gifts to serve others, as Emily does.