Title: Ameila Anne is Dead and Gone
Author: Kat Rosenfield
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release date: July 5th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA; mytery
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On the night of Becca’s high school graduation, the discovery of an unidentified dead girl left to bleed out on the side of a dirt road sends the town—and Becca—into a tailspin. Becca has always longed to break free from her small home town, but as the violence of the outside world creeps into her backyard, she withdraws and retreats inward, paralyzed 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 coming-of-age summer, unfolding into the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and tense romantic relationships as the summer’s tumultuous events twist Becca closer and closer to the truth about Amelia’s murder.My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
You can be sure you're reading a great book when you like what you're reading but know you'll enjoy it even more each time you re-read it. And that's what Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone was like for me; the compelling mystery and the enthralling atmosphere kept me turning the pages this time, and the lush writing ensures that I'll go back to this novel time and time again.
The writing is what makes this book so special. Kat Rosenfield's style is gorgeous like you wouldn't believe. The keen attention to detail is simply stunning. She can spend an entire page describing one little, every-day type thing, but because of Kat Rosenfield's way with words, it doesn't get boring. The style is enchanting; you'll be hanging on her every word. I had to re-read so many paragraphs because I simply could not get over their beauty.
The small-town atmosphere is incredibly well-done. The town Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is set in feels like a character in and by itself, and I love when that happens. The descriptions of small-town life have a dark, mysteriously thrilling and eerily realistic feel to them; I was waiting for the town to come to life, somehow, throughout the book. All of it reminded me of Nova Ren Suma's Imaginary Girls - both books are eerily atmospheric and gorgeously written.
I love how mature everything in Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is. Becca just graduated high school, and Amelia just graduated from college. But even more than the characters' ages, something about the style is just very adult. The sex, the violence, the language and the whole story felt very explicit for YA. To be honest, I'm a little surprised this even got published as YA. Not that any of this is a bad thing - I love anything that pushes the boundaries between Young Adult and adult, and it makes me happy this got published as YA, because the market does need it. Still, I'm surprised.
But even without the maturity, there is something undoubtedly weird about Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone. The narrative took some getting used to - some of it is Becca's first-person narrative, while other parts use an omniscient narrator, transitioning seamlessly. Not to mention the way the story switches between Becca's and Amelia's. And the general weirdness about everything in this book. I loved how different and unique all of it is, but you definitely have to be in the right mood for this kind of thing, so I can see how it wouldn't work for some people.
I'm not sure what to make of the ending. While reading, I was a little disappointed, but the more I think about it, the more I understand its subtle brilliance. It's not the most shocking revelation to the mystery - the suspects are narrowed down to three pretty early on - but I love what this shows about the characters, how it stretches the boundaries, our good-and-evil way of thinking. I still think the ending should have incorporated some more of the smaller storylines, though - I kept waiting for some kind of connection between those and the main story, other than what they added to the atmosphere.
There's a quote from Ellen Hopkins on the back of the book that sums it up better than I could - she called it "lush, mysterious, utterly compelling." Those four words capture perfectly what Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is all about. The compellingly weird mystery, the eery atmosphere, and the stunningly gorgeous writing make this a book I know I won't soon forget.