An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent.
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.
The novel is told in alternating points-of-view between Becca, a small town girl who’s about to leave home for university, and Amelia Anne, the girl found dead and broken beside a road in the small town Becca yearns to leave behind.
Part of my connection to this novel stems from my understanding of Becca. I’ve been the girl from a small town who couldn’t wait to escape. I’d been in her position, wondering if I should leave my high school boyfriend behind, but terrified to do so. Becca and I share so many of the same fears and look at things in such similar ways. I like to think it’s because Rosenfield successfully captured the mindset of someone who grew up in a small town, but always believed there was something more out there.
While the high school me identified with Becca, the college me had a deeper understanding of Amelia Anne. This girl, who the reader glimpses through short chapters visiting moments in her life leading up to her untimely death, escaped to university like Becca longs to do. She did what was expected of her and finished her degree, but it wasn’t in something she was passionate about. Amelia Anne finally decides to start living her life for herself only to have it tragically cut short… to become unknown on the side of a country road. While it might be dramatic, Amelia Anne, with her bravery to do what she loved, everyone else be damned, reminded me that I need to do the same… because you never know what tomorrow holds.
I already feel like I’ve been a bit spoilery and writing more will guarantee spoilers, so I should probably stop while I’m ahead.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a remarkably powerful novel filled with gorgeous writing, perfectly flawed characters, and a painfully real setting. Kat Rosenfield has blown me away with her debut novel. I can guarantee I’ll be anxiously awaiting for her next offering.