Series: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone #1
Published by Dutton Children's Books on July 5th 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
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An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent
Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.
Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.
Picture this. There are two characters, Becca and Amelia. They are both girls. They both feel trapped in their lives, but they can taste the a better tomorrow beyond the mundane today. They can see themselves finding freedom, running and never coming back. They were so similar during life, but now Amelia has been murdered, and her body is found on the side of the road, right on the boarder of Becca’s hometown.
So basically, going in to this book, you really, very badly, want to know who killed her. That’s the first and foremost thing on your mind, before you even start reading, and the eventual answer to this question is going to be a big factor in whether or not you liked the book.
It certainly was for me.
Rosenfield built tension expertly, keeping me invested with the here and now of the story when it suited the novel, while still withholding information so it became almost tantalizing.
The author wove the story expertly, building up the small town setting so that it felt alive and real to me. The writing had this dark but wonderfully serene kind of wording and pacing to it that made even the smallest details beautiful to read about. If you have read and enjoyed the writing style of Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls, you will love this book. Each scene was described so superbly that I could almost feel it happening, but not overly so that I grew frustrated with the wordiness.
It did, however, have its downfalls. The scenes where more intense actions were taking place were often muddled, and I had to reread them a couple of times before what was going on became entirely clear. This often happened at the worst possible moments, during a crucial or climactic scene that lost its effect when it lost its clarity.
The secondary characters in this book were intriguing and well written, and so was Amelia Anne, but I felt a bit left in the dark when it came to Becca. We learn a lot about her feelings towards her current relationship with James and we hear vaguely about her plans for a future far far away from her hometown. We don’t however, learn what she wants to become, what she enjoys to do in her free time, what her interests are, etc. While it could be argued that those things were emitted to focus on the key aspects of the book, to me it just whittled down what could have been a full and vibrant character.
This didn’t detract from the other characters, and I found myself drawn in to James’s back story, the subtle way that Becca’s parents were shown to the reader with selective glimpses and the other small town residents like Lindsay, Tom, even Craig.
So the setting was written magnificently, the characters were interesting, the plot picked up just as it should, and the tension was certainly there. I was basically gripping the book super tight for the last hundred or so pages. The waiting was almost delicious, but I kind of lost my appetite when there wasn’t much payoff.
I got the reveal I wanted, but with it came the absolute worst feeling you can have as a reader after getting into a book, the feeling of ‘so what’. I think that a lot of readers will be satisfied with the ending, but for me, I was just left disbelieving. After a chapter of explanation all my burning questions were answered and what was blurry finally came into focus, but for me the story had lost it’s momentum to the point where I was complacent.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone was incredibly well written and imagined, to the point where I will probably read it again, just for Rosenfield’s wonderful prose. That’s why I’m sorry to say that for me it fell kind of flat. I would still recommend it, however, because although the ending wasn’t for me, it might certainly be for you.