Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Amelia Unabridged, by Ashley Schumacher

Amelia and Jenna are obsessed with N. E. Endsley's Orman Chronicles.  For Amelia, the books are a source of comfort since her father left and her mother withdrew.  For Jenna, who has the loving parents and wealth that Amelia lacks, the books are simply something to bond them together.  She enjoys bossing Amelia around and Amelia, happy to be pleasing, does what her friend tells her to do.

When it is announced that Endsley will be appearing at a local book festival, the girls have to go.  Jenna's parents get them VIP passes so their be able to meet the author and get their books signed.  But things at the festival don't go well.  Endsley cancels and Jenna betrays Ashley in a way that leaves them broken apart.  And then, before they can mend their relationship, Jenna is killed in a car accident.  Reeling from the tragedy, Amelia withdraws.  Despite Jenna's parents' attempt to draw Amelia out, eh loses her interest in reading or pretty much anything else.  

A mysterious package arrives for Amelia with something in it that should not exist.  Following clues left on the package, Amelia impulsively travels to a bookstore across the country.  There, she finds out what happened for real at that ill-fated book festival and a lot more.  By the end of a week-long stay, she comes to an important crossroads where she'll have to decide whose life she wants to live.

A creative and complex romance and coming of age story.  The writing is beautiful, the characters deep, and the story well-developed and fresh.  But I still found myself unmoved.  I enjoyed reading the book, but the subject matter didn't engage me.  I love reading, but I don't swoon over bookstores or book authors and Schumacher presumes that her readers will.  The book's epilogue, with its hypothetical suggestions of what is to come, nicely encapsulates the gauzy vision that the author seems to like.  It's a pretty style but it doesn't make commitments.

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