Amelia Anne is Dead and GoneFeatured
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.
Though I did not particularly enjoy this book, I am not blind to its charms, so do allow me to start there. Kat Rosenfield has, no doubt, a marvelous career ahead of her. With the first sentence, I knew that I would love her writing, and I was right about that at least. If this is how well she writes a debut, she will be going big places. Her style perfectly matched the tone of the novel, a mood of hopelessness, of loss, and of confusion.
Also on the positive side, I give Rosenfield full credit for telling a unique story, one I have never seen the likes of in YA fiction. She parallels the lives of the titular Amelia Anne and Becca, born and raised in the town where Amelia Anne breathed her last. Both girls are in love, or think they are, with boys who fail to please them sexually. Both have big plans that they fear their boyfriends will not support. Amelia Anne graduated from college the same day that Becca graduated from high school. Amelia Anne died, stuck forever in some sense in this town where Becca dreads being trapped.
Moving into what I did not like now, I have to go back to the writing. Much as I loved the way Rosenfield phrased things and put together her sentences, I did not like the storytelling method she used. I did like getting to see both from Becca's perspective in the present and Amelia Anne's perspective in the days leading up to her death, although I really hate the way her chapters weren't given chapter numbers. What drove me crazy, however, was that the narration occasionally either switched to third person omniscient in Becca's section or that she was telling the story from some unidentified date in the future. The numbered chapters often included reflections on things Becca simply could not know or hints at knowledge she could not yet have possessed. These details detracted from the novel for me, rather than adding additional crucial knowledge.
Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is one of those books about terrible people. All of them, with the exception of Amelia Anne, are awful. I did not like a single one of them. Of course, sometimes authors can make this work, make you curious about characters you would happily hurl off a cliff. In this case, though, I just did not care about them. When the dramatic twists happened, instead of being shocked and excited, I was more like "whatever, can we please move this along?" and entirely bored with the whole thing. No matter how clever twists are, if you're not emotionally invested, they lack impact.
Were it not for the beauty of the writing, this rating would be a 2. Though I didn't like this, I urge you not to take this book off your list solely based on my review, as so many reviewers I trust implicitly loved it. As it is, I would read something else of Rosenfield's in a heartbeat, because of how incredibly talented I can tell she is.
There's something about this book that made it feel like a mix of Alice Hoffman's, "The River King" and Nova Ren Suma's, "Imaginary Girls" with it's mystery, murder, heart-breaking twists and complex characters. The prose, while somewhat poetic, was really lengthy in places and lost my attention.
Becca and Amelia are four years apart but share the same hope of wanting something more than what their lives currently offer them. Both have boyfriends who love them but make a series of mistakes that jeopardize the future of their relationships. Where Becca spends her time angry, hurt and suddenly unsure of her future, Amelia is full of life and great expectations...until she isn't.
I always hope to like whatever book I'm currently reading and this one is no exception but it was a little too depressing for my taste.
A coming of age story told through the unraveling summer of one young woman’s death and another’s attempt to escape her small town life.
There’s something so special about this book. Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a haunting portrait of transition. That strange and pivotal moment in a young person’s life when they are changing from teenagers to adults;It’s a moment everyone experiences, but not everyone can describe. Rosenfield has captured it perfectly — and elevated her story through the unraveling of a deadly mystery.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Goneis captivating, compelling, and luxuriously written.
It’s rare for a book to captivate me so completely, but Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone has joined a short but significant personal list that also includes The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley.
There is a certain feeling I get when I read “literature” (notice the quotes). It’s impossible to describe, but it has a lot to do with the mentality that goes behind writing a book like this, the way in which the story is told, and the way I notice author’s presence in the text. Kat Rosenfield’s writing, while beautiful, certainly takes—for lack of a better word—an external perspective on the story. That probably won’t work for a lot of readers, and in theory it shouldn’t work for me, either. But it does. The talent with which Rosenfield give the reader a detached perspective and still manages to convey a compelling story is amazing.
Like most novels of this sort, Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is very character focused, and the main conflict is more protagonist vs. society than protagonist vs. tangible person/object. The stories of Becca and Amelia don’t fit together seamlessly—there is overlap, and at some points I did wonder the importance of knowing Amelia’s background. The convergence of the two plots is subtle, and the symbolism between the two young women isn’t immediately obvious.
There is also the immense beauty of Rosenfield’s prose to take into account. I like pretty prose as much as it’s possible for me to like it, but only when there’s depth and purpose behind the beautiful imagery. If I’m reading a book with flowery language just for the sake of flowery language, I probably won’t be impressed. But the way Kat Rosenfield writes is strong; it’s powerful and you definitely get the sense that she picked her words carefully. The haunting atmosphere of dusty small town was fully realized in a few sentences, and with only a single image here and there, the author managed to maintain it all the way through.
I was also, honestly, surprised by the maturity of both this novel’s plot and Rosenfield’s approach to writing. Murder is, obviously, a major component in this, and it wasn’t tiptoed around or euphemized. Beyond that, Becca and Amelia both had a straightforward, insightful approach to life that really goes beyond what you tend to find in teen fiction.
I admit, though, that I wasn’t the biggest fan of Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone at the time I was reading it. Because of the external viewpoint, the slow pace, and the difficult characters, it was hard to get invested. But toward the end, when you begin to realize what a genius Rosenfield is, and once you’ve done and you can think about this novel as a whole, that’s when it hits you—or at least when it hit me.
This novel shows a very adult approach to writing YA. I personally enjoyed this book a lot, and would recommend it to those who know they tend to like postmodern literature. I wouldn’t say Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is the most accessible piece of writing I’ve ever read, but it’s brilliantly written and, overall, I found it to be quite impressive.
At 16% on my Kindle I abandoned the book and picked Fever. I, however, came back to it because after paying $10.99 on Amazon I wasn’t about to throw my money away like that (which in this case I just did). Also, a blog that I follow said that the story had an unexpected twist at the end. Unfortunately, I didn't see it. Since Amelia's character was introduced I pretty much figured how she'd die. Soooo... that twist just skipped my eyes.
The story is told from two different POVsm Becca and Amelia. Becca is a forward girl who knows her priorities (finish high school and go to college). That is until a murder across town puts her in slow motion and “paralyzed her from moving forward for the first time in her life.” Then Becca’s story and that of the dead girl (and from the title you can pretty much guess that it is Amelia Anne, so no spoiler here) are told at intervals. Which is fine, if it wasn’t written so lyrical that it literally put me to sleep.
For some reason I thought there was a paranormal element to this book. I have no idea why that ever entered my mind—the synopsis gives no hint of anything paranormal related. I guess I’ve been so overwhelmed with all things supernatural lately, that I just assumed I was reading another book in the genre. Shame on me. In case you share my own folly, know that this is not a paranormal book. It’s a murder mystery mixed with a coming of age story.
I thought the author’s ability to mix two stories (from two different points of view) was brilliant. She did an amazing job making the story lines flow smoothly without seeming choppy. I was engrossed with Becca’s story from the first chapter. Her piece of crap boyfriend made my blood boil. (Read that first chapter and you’ll know what I’m talking about.) I spent most of the book waiting for Becca to realize how crappy her boyfriend was. I’m not sure if that’s how I was supposed to feel or not, but he definitely struck a nerve with me. Of course, he did have a few redeeming qualities. I couldn’t help but feel a tug at my heart when he described his mom’s death from cancer. His compassion for other people’s suffering becomes clear in the end (even if he is a slug to his girlfriend).
Mixed within the pages of Becca’s story is Amelia’s own tragic tale. When she finally realizes what she wants to be, it’s too much for those around her. The effects are tragic. In a way, the book is the coming of age story for two girls (un-coming of age story for the one that dies?). Both girls, Becca and Amelia, struggle with figuring out where they belong in the world and how the people they love fit into the puzzle. Both girls deal with horrendous heartache and life changing events... except one of them never gets the chance to grow from the experience.
Enough about the characters and the plot. Let’s talk about what really made this book special: the author’s writing. Her descriptions! Sigh. She has an eye for detail, that’s for sure. Her writing had a poetic element to it that made me think of prose at times. There were parts that were simply beautiful. It’s hard to believe that this was the author’s debut book. She is certainly talented, and I’m excited to see what else she will write in the future.