There are some books that you just know are going to be an emotional rollercoaster – Amelia Unabridged is a prime example. The book begins with the death of Amelia’s best friend and takes the reader through Amelia’s journey of finding herself in her new (tragic) normal.
Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.
In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.
When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.
The true star of this book is the writing – I can’t find the words to describe how good it is. The writing is almost lyrical at times, and incorporates flashback scenes to effectively build the importance Jenna had to Amelia and how big of a loss her passing was. The book is told from Amelia’s point of view – and through her POV you get to read about how she is coping with the sudden loss of her best friend and how she is managing her grief.
Amelia was a fascinating character dealing with one of the biggest struggles a person can have: she was mourning the tragic and sudden loss of her (basically) sister, Jenna. She was experiencing a touch of survivor’s guilt, and a lot of pain around her final interactions with Jenna (they had a fight shortly before the accident). Amelia was exceptionally multifaceted – while she herself was going through mourning, she still dedicated herself to the emotional needs of a boy she had only known for a few days.
What I really appreciated about Amelia Unabridged was how it handled grief and mourning. As the book progressed, Amelia faced reconciling with her grief and how she could not change the fact that Jenna was gone. She also faced the fact that Jenna had planned their lives out together and she felt obligated to follow that life plan in Jenna’s memory. I really liked that by the end of the book her grief wasn’t magically gone – she had just come to terms with it a bit more, but it was still a big part of her life. Most of Amelia’s growth came from her learning to move forward with her life while still carrying Jenna’s memory – and I thought that was a beautiful conclusion to the book.
Amelia Unabridged is a beautiful story about finding yourself in the wake of tragedy as well as a coming-of-age story. The writing was gorgeous, the handling of grief and survivors guilt was excellent, and the idea of finding oneself despite horrific circumstances was well portrayed. I can’t say enough good things about this book – it was easily one of my favorites of this year. If you’re looking for other excellent YA contemporary books, check out You Have a Match and Tweet Cute. 5/5