Author: Kat Rosenfield
Publication Date: July 5, 2012
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.
Becca is the class salutatorian. Smart, hard working and desperate to escape small town life. She has just graduated and is looking forward to spending that one last summer with her boyfriend, James, before heading off for college. She has big dreams and knows exactly what she wants out of life. She has lived in this small town her entire life and has always dreamed about leaving. Only Becca never stopped to think about the dangers of the outside world. Crimes like murder just don't happen in her town and when a badly beaten body turns up, she struggles to make sense of it. She no longer feels safe and that is putting everything she has ever worked for in jeopardy.
Amelia Anne is in college and also very bright. She studies so hard that she barely takes time out for personal enjoyment. But on a whim, Amelia Anne takes over for a friend in a play and realizes what she has been missing all along: acting. She loves it and is surprisingly great at it too. But Amelia Anne needs to make a decision, and the one she makes is going to lead not only herself, but Becca, a girl she has never met, into an unimaginable downward spiral.
I came across this book for the first time many months ago and it immediately grabbed my attention. The cover is stunning and possibly one of my all-time favorites. It's simple, yet beautiful. Once I read the synopsis, I was hooked. Something about this story called to me and I felt a deep need to get my hands on it. I was ecstatic to learn that I was lucky enough to snag an arc from LibraryThing. Sadly though, the book sat quietly on my shelf for a month or two before I was finally able to pick it up.
When I did finally sit down with Amelia Anne, I didn't want to get back up. This incredible story of two girls trying to decide on their futures was gripping and intense. Told mostly from Becca's point of view, small chapters about Amelia Anne's last days intertwine, leading us to the breaking point for both girls. The two stories are written so beautifully and just flow right into each other. The author did such a fantastic job setting the scene of this small town and I felt like I knew all of the characters. And in a way, I do. I have lived in the same small town my entire life (31 years!) and it works the same as Becca's. Everyone knows everyone and some things you learn along the way and you are never really sure who taught you or where you learned it from. This plays a big role in the plot and I think this really helped me connect with Becca. Her struggle is incredibly emotional. She is starting to lose herself and she doesn't know how to stop it. I felt for her and wanted desperately for her to snap out of her depression and start living again.
When it came to Amelia Anne, it was just like watching a car accident. You know from just reading the title that this poor girl is going to die, but you can't help yourself from getting attached to her. I knew it was coming but I was still immersed in her life, maybe even more so because of that. I wanted to know what happened to her right away, but the author toys with you, giving you only so much at once. Her pacing was brilliant and she knew exactly where to switch the stories in and out. Kat Rosenfield has found a forever fan in me!
If that isn't enough to convince you to rush out and buy this book RIGHT NOW, perhaps I should tell you a little bit more about James. James is gorgeous (of course!) and he loves Becca deeply, but he is also struggling with his own demons. After dealing with a deep loss, he has taken up chain smoking and his life seems to be at a stand still. Even though he is kind of an ass, I couldn't help but feel for him after reading his history. Ok, I swooned a little too. I couldn't help myself, I love snarky guys!
Trust me when I say that this book is not one to miss. It is an impassioned coming of age story and a compelling mystery, a combination that makes it the perfect summer read!