Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone (by Kat Rosenfield)

5 10 2012

One of the buzz-books of that past summer was definitely Kat Rosenfield’s fiction debut Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone. With good reason too, because from the very first – uncomfortable – scene till the last page when the mystery surrounding Amelia Anne gets its – confusing – resolution, you get the feeling that this book is definitely something else.

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is another type of mystery novel, another type of coming-of-age (the official blurb has it as an un-coming-of-age), and another type of YA literature. It’s the type of book of which you just know that the author has been brooding on for the longest time. And it definitely has a prose writing style which is not often seen in contemporary YA: lyrical to the point of poetic, haunting almost dizzy-making language that is shrouded in similes and adjectival and adverbial phrases almost as mystifying as what happened to the dead unidentified girl by the road of small town Bridgeton. There’s a sense of urgency and inevitability oozing from the language Rosenfield so deftly employs.

Becca just graduated as her high school salutatorian. At the end of this summer, the plan is to leave her small, gossipy and mind-stifling town behind, and to make a future for herself, anything that can make her not come back will do.  So Becca as at a point of transition in her life. There’s just one last summer separating her from freedom from close-mindedness, gossip and standing still. One last summer she can spend with her boyfriend James (who dropped out of highschool), one last summer which is rudely interrupted by a dead girl – Amelia Anne, known to the reader, unknown to Becca and the rest of Bridgeton – and all the insecurities her appearance invokes in Becca.

Becca’s stoy is that of someone running to escape. Likewise, once we get to know Amelia Anne, we see that her story too, was one of escape, an escape from a future that was all laid out for her, but which she gets an opportunity to escape from through going for an acting degree. That is, until she died of course, which is when her future was taken away from her.

The cat loves ‘small town’ books and Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is another great example of one, very reminiscent of books like Stephen King’s Misery or Dolores Claiborne and even Lauren Myracle’s Shine, for the same sense of eeriness they evoke! The florid – sometimes even confusing – writing style may not be for everyone, though. You will find yourself rereading certain scenes just to make sure you didn’t miss anything vital about the plot. Obviously, this may be an obstacle to readers who prefer their mystery stories to be straightforward and fast-paced. However, if you’re up for the style challenge, and don’t mind being off the beaten track once in a while, then Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is your book!

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