Amelia Unabridged / Ashley Schumacher / Book Review

Amelia Unabridged: A Novel

Blurb

The Orman Chronicles are everything to Amelia. They're the books that brought her and her best friend together. They're the books that allowed Amelia to escape from her life when her father left. They're the books that mean the most to her, and so when Amelia and Jenna get the chance to attend a book festival where the famously-reclusive author of Orman, N.E. Endsley, will be speaking, they jump at the chance. On the day of the festival, however, Jenna gets a chance to meet N.E. Endsley, and Amelia doesn't. The two best friends fight like they never have before. 

Before Amelia gets a chance to mend this relationship, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident, and suddenly, Amelia's whole future is thrown out of focus. Jenna had a plan, and without Jenna, Amelia doesn't know what to do. When a rare and mysterious edition of Orman arrives for Amelia, she is convinced that this book was somehow sent from Jenna before the accident. Wanting to follow any clues Jenna has left, Amelia sets off on a roadtrip to Michigan. But she doesn't find Jenna in Michigan. She finds the young and handsome N.E. Endlsey himself, and Amelia realizes what she thought she understood about her best friend and their blowout fight might not have been true at all. 

Pros

  • Engaging Voice: Even when I had problems with this book, I didn't find it difficult to read. The voice is engaging, unique, and maintains momentum. It is easy to sink into. It is easy to follow along. It is easy to forgive and keep going. I had some major problems with this book, and so the fact that I happily finished it speaks a lot to the quality of the character's voice. 
  • Meta Narrative: One of the things that makes this book fun is just how self-aware it is. Amelia makes constant references to how she would write her story--where she would start if her life were a book, how she would write a scene, what she would do if she were a character. This analysis of scene, metaphor, and technique is very meta--and accordingly very engaging. Amelia thinks like a reader, and as a fellow reader, it is fun to engage in the analysis of her story this way. 
  • Magical Bookstore: This book blends the YA contemporary tropes of the "last chance/summer-before-college road trip" and the "journey of self-discovery," and at the end of Amelia's frenetic road trip is an absolutely magical bookstore. This bookstore is full of music, paintings, theme rooms, and coffee. It is evocative, nostalgic, and something of a dream. A Victorian room complete with antique furniture and historical romances? Yes, please!

Cons

  • Val: I absolutely loved the idea of this eccentric bookstore owner. The concept isn't the problem. The execution was. I found Val's dialogue too stilted. It rendered her character not-quite-real from the start--in a bad way. The way Val handled the situation at hand didn't feel real, either. Her actions might fit an eccentric character, but the way she talked about her choices? I just didn't buy her character at all. 
  • Insta-Love: "Insta-love" is a problem across the board in YA books, but I usually don't mind it much. It's part of plot, and in a fast-paced book, a fast-paced romance can be forgiven to an extent. Here, however, the romance was pushed to the extreme. The meta nature of this book as well as the voice makes the prose hyperbolic enough. Adding an instant love connection just pushed it over the edge. This wasn't instant attraction or lust at first sight. No, the characters had an immediate, inseverable bond as soon as they laid eyes on each other--which feels a little too ethereal for me. 
  • Love Conquers All: Stilted dialogue was a problem. Insta-love was a bigger problem. The biggest problem at all was the undercurrent that "love conquers all." Love doesn't conquer all. Love can help, sure, but it doesn't eradicate grief, anxiety, phobia, et cetera. It is hurtful to indicate that love can be the solution to these problems. This type of narrative puts too much pressure on a romantic (or even platonic) relationship from both sides. It is incredibly harmful. Though this book doesn't come outright and conclude that love is the answer, that love-conquers-all idea still comes through pretty clear. And that isn't okay. 

Rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
6/10

Anyone craving more summer trips with a side of breezy romance after reading Hannah Reynolds's The Summer of Lost Letters should check out this road trip of self-discovery. Fans of Clare Vanderpool's Navigating Early will enjoy this contemporary narrative of love, loss, and everlasting friendship. 

Details

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Date: February 16, 2021
Series: N/A
Buy It HERE


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