Here is the official blurb from the publisher:

 

AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield

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.

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As soon as I saw the cover for this book, I wanted it, and I was so excited to get an ARC at ALA in June. From the first paragraph, the prose impressed me. Kat Rosenfield has a poetic style with beautiful descriptions and a unique turn of phrase. More than that, though, she chose an interesting structure.

There are three distinct POVs in the book: first person POV (Becca), close third person (Amelia/Luke), and distant third person (town). Becca’s story is one of heartbreak. She has never fit into her town and can’t wait to leave it behind. In the prologue, her boyfriend, James, rocks her world when he breaks up with her and the rest of the book deals with the ramifications of that. Then we have Amelia and Luke’s story, which I found to be the most intriguing of the story. Amelia is dead at the outset of the story, and the mystery of how she is murdered propels us through the novel and – for me – made her chapters the most compelling. Amelia and Becca have something in common; they are both outsiders in the small town where Becca lives and Amelia dies. Between these two distinct POVs, we have the town POV. This is where we learn the philosophy of the town, and we understand that when you are part of the town, you are of one mind with it. There is a shared history, philosophy, and sense of belonging, but also a danger of getting stuck in the past. The rotation between these POVs helped shine a light on what it means to be from a small town and what it means to leave that behind, highlighting Becca’s need to escape from it and the sadness of Amelia’s bright life ending there.

The book’s greatest strengths are also its weaknesses. While I adored the prose, sometimes it didn’t serve the plot. It shone bright and beautiful, but at times it didn’t tell me anything about the characters or push the plot along. I’m not always adverse to that – I love pretty prose – but there were times when I wished the story would move along. Not much happened in the town POV chapters, and they got a little repetitive. Add that to Becca’s chapters where she seemed frozen by circumstance, and the book suffered from a pacing problem. The end didn’t satisfy the way I hoped, either, but I think the slow pacing put a lot of pressure on the conclusion – reading so patiently made me want the story to end with a bang, but it landed with more of a soft blow.

With that said, I found much to like about AMELIA ANNE. As I mentioned, the prose is gorgeous, and I’m completely jealous that I didn’t write some of the lines. Plus, I found James to be an intriguing character, and by far the most rounded.

I would recommend AMELIA ANNE for those who like realistic fiction with a mature edge.

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