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Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

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Rosenfield, K. (2012). Amelia Anne is dead and gone. New York: Dutton Books. ISBN: 9780525423898

Annotation: On the night of her high school graduation, Becca’s boyfriend dumps her and a girl no one knows is killed in their small town, marking the beginning of a summer of suspicion as Becca questions all her future plans.

Reaction: I really love the way Rosenfield uses flashbacks to Amelia Anne Richardson’s last days alive interspersed throughout Becca’s narrative to help tell her story. The flashbacks flesh Amelia Anne out as a character, allowing the reader to really connect with her and feel the tragedy of her death more keenly. They also add to the mystery, as readers wonder how her story goes from idyllic early summer in the day before her death to brutally murdered on the side of a road in a town she had never been before.

Becca’s side of the story is familiar for anyone getting ready to leave home for the first time. She struggles with finding her place in her hometown and the wide world in general. She deals with heartbreak and the distance her boyfriend puts between them before she leaves for college. He apologizes and wants to reconcile after the impromptu breakup on graduation, but their relationship is never the same. I kept flashing back to my own summer before college, and the three month long breakup between myself and my high school boyfriend. The anticipation of fall made the summer bittersweet and all the more challenging when the end came.

Rosenfield crafts a wonderful, tragic mystery. I thought I was really clever and figured out who the murderer halfway through the novel, but then she twists the story again, and what I thought I knew was wrong, wrong, wrong. Becca narrates from the vantage of time and distance. She tells the story from her perspective, but she is also able to include perspectives and attitudes of the townspeople around her, giving the story a sense of omniscience.

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