Sparks fly between two teens as they grapple with grief, love, and the future in this unforgettable debut novel sure to entice fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer E. Smith Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college. In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future. When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along. Ashley Schumacher's devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it.
Together, the two are unstoppable, and they have big plans for their future. Beginning with their graduation gift from Jenna's parents to go to a book festival where the reclusive author of the Orman Chronicles will be making a big and rare announcement - and the two have VIP tickets to attend and get their books signed. When Amelia has to go to the bathroom, Jenna gets a chance to meet the author - right before the event is entirely canceled, leaving Amelia without her own chance. As feelings do not always make sense, they have a fight about it before Jenna heads to her big botanist trip abroad - a trip that Jenna does not return from after an unexpected car accident.
Set adrift, Amelia's world feels off kilter without Jenna - and then a rare edition of an Orman Chronicles book is delivered to her favorite bookstore, the one where the two friends met. Following the signs and trying to learn more about this gift from Jenna and the messages she may have left behind, Amelia heads to Michigan from Texas to the bookstore that sent this mysterious package. What she finds there is bigger and more important than anything she could have anticipated.
What I loved: This book is everything. It broke my heart into a million pieces so many times, and I loved every second of it. Amelia is raw, genuine, and heartfelt. Along with the other characters we get to meet during the story, they all burrow into the reader's heart and come to life throughout the book. The characters are truly phenomenal, and I was delighted to meet them all. They have flaws and histories, and they felt so true and real.
A major theme of the book is about loss, grief, and the guilt and sorrow the people we love leave behind. Although we only know Jenna for a few chapters, she lives during this time so fiercely that her loss resonates through Amelia and the pages of the book. Alongside other characters and their grief, this theme was quite powerful, with discussions about how to move forward after such a loss and redefine yourself in the wake of it.
Other themes around healing and being true to yourself also resonate in the book and create a really strong story. This book is an absolute gem. I also want to add that it may have one of the best epilogues I have ever read. It is difficult to do such a book justice in a review, but this book is every bit as magical as the series that features within.
Final verdict: Raw, heartfelt, and beautiful, AMELIA UNABRIDGED is a powerful read about grief, love, and finding your truths. Highly recommend for fans of IF I STAY, LOOKING FOR ALASKA, and BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA.