Published by Dutton Juvenile on July 5th 2012
Source: a Giveaway
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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.
“That girl, dead and gone, her spirit trapped forever just inside town limits—she’d come from someplace, was going somewhere. Until destiny had stepped into the road in front of her, stopped her forward motion, drawn a killing claw against the white, fluttering swell of her future. Whispering, ‘Oh no, you don’t.’
When you made plans, the saboteurs came out to play.”
The night of Becca’s high school graduation brings her one step closer to leaving small-town life forever. The following day brings dreadful news of a young girl that was found beaten to death on the side of the road. The death of this unknown girl stirs Becca’s doubts and causes her to become fearful of this outside world that she’s received her first glimpse of. Was this girl killed by an outsider or is the one to be feared someone from her own town?
I was warned that Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone isn’t a book for everyone. I was warned about the prose. I was warned about the excessive descriptions. But those warnings were clearly not meant for me. The intro line managed to grab me instantly. Hook, line, and sinker.
‘The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.’
You couldn’t tear this book out of my hands after that. I worked reluctantly. I slept reluctantly. I couldn’t stop reading until I had completely devoured this book. The author is so adroit with the English language that I wish it wasn’t her debut so I had a full backlog of her work to go back and read. Rosenfield’s descriptions are excessive but felt completely necessary for this type of story. The additional wording added a heightened sense of what was truly happening, a heightened sense of dread. The continued investigation into this girls death never succeeded in actually getting any closer to solving but it did succeed in completely unraveling the town and each of its inhabitants.
Amelia Anne centers primarily around Becca who after having sex with her boyfriend James was unceremoniously dumped immediately after. The death of this anonymous girl and the effect that her death has on this small town is actually more of a side story. The story alternates between Amelia’s final days and Becca’s transformed days following the discovery of the mysterious body. As the story unfolds, the reader is shown the similarities between the girls despite their differences. The mystery in how the two came to be connected seemed to be an impossibility. Seeing the pieces of their stories slowly merge and form the bigger picture was a revelation as I managed to remain in the dark until the very end.
‘In a place so insulted, where lives are so small and gone about so quietly, violent death hangs in the air – tinting everything crimson, weaving itself into the shimmering heat that rises off the winding asphalt roads at noon.’
Certain details of this story really stood out for me. Firstly was Rosenfield’s portrayal of a mature teenage love in its genuine form with all its unnecessary complexity. Her descriptions of this small town and its inhabitants were completely on point. Not surprising, the author grew up in a small town in New York with a population of less than 3k people. And lastly, her ability to write such an intricate and alluring tale in less than 300 pages.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is an exquisitely written debut novel that’s flawlessly layered and incredibly captivating.