Book Review: Amelia Ann is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

My review: At the beginning of this book, I was immediately turned off and almost didn’t read any further. What troubled me was the fact that the publisher rated this book for teens and pronounced it appropriate for ages 14 and up. After the first paragraph, I vehemently disagreed. The aftermath of a sexual encounter was described in vivid detail including the complex emotions that the main character was experiencing. Call me naive, but I don’t know any fourteen year old that is mature enough for that reading experience. I’ve been a librarian for 11 years, and I know that some teen books have sex, language, drugs, etc. in them. But, in a true YA novel these issues are handled at the emotional and experience level of the intended audience. In my opinion (and I admit to having a conservative view), that just wasn’t the case with Amelia Ann Dead and Gone.

Nevertheless, I was able to put my opinions aside and continue reading. I’m glad that I did. Kat Rosenfield, the writer, has a brutally honest and yet almost poetic way of telling the stories of Becca and Amelia. She paints graphic portraits of betrayal, violence, heartbreak, sex, and death that leave imprints on the reader’s brain. She also understands her characters and grants the reader access inside their heads. Their motivations, their reasoning, their actions and their words all rang true to who you knew them to be in the end. What really grabbed me was the murder mystery. I never did guess the entire truth. The author was able to keep me guessing until the very end.

Obvious throughout the book was the author’s attempt to draw parallels between Amelia Ann and Becca, two characters who never met and whose lives had very different futures. It’s easy to see the parallels, but what’s more difficult to comprehend is the message that the author was trying to convey by having these two lives play out simultaneously. I won’t try to answer that question here. I think it would be a interesting discussion between readers, though. I do have some theories, but maybe the writer never meant to answer that question fully. Maybe it was meant to remain a thought in the back of the reader’s mind long after turning the last page.

I recommend this book for mature young adults (ages 17 and up). The sex and violence are graphic but not gratuitous. It all makes sense in the context of the book and befits the age of the characters. I feel the need to quote Oscar Wilde here when he said,”There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are either well written or badly written. That is all.” Amelia Ann is Dead and Gone is a well-written book with likeable yet complex characters. In the end, that is what matters.

In compliance with FTC guidelines, please note that I received a free review copy from the publisher in return for my honest review.