Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone
Pub 7-2012, Dutton, $17.99
Though she’s no stranger to writing, Kat Rosenfield is a newcomer when it comes to authoring novels. Her debut, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, is set in the heat of a small-town summer, beginning on the night of a mysterious girl’s murder. Amelia Anne isn’t just good for a first-time author–-it’s just plain good.
Contrary to what you’d think, Amelia Anne isn’t the book’s main character. Becca, a girl who’s just graduated high school and is about to leave her small New England town, and her boyfriend, James, behind, narrates the novel. Throughout, she’s trying to make sense of everything that’s going on with the mysterious murder, her future, and whether or not James is a part of that future. The book is told in the first-person, although chapters dealing with Amelia Anne’s last hours are intermittently woven in using a third-person point of view.
The prose in Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is absolutely brilliant and breathtaking. Oftentimes, when authors use heavy, deep prose, it sounds melodramatic, thus cheapening the novel. But Ms. Rosenfield has somehow managed to hit the sweet spot, writing in language that’s beautiful and yet, still, realistic.
Of course, it’s possible that the very thing preventing the novel from falling into melodrama is the same thing that tends to cheapen stories. There’s a lot of foul language in this book. A lot. In most cases, an excessive use of foul language sells a novel short. And there are some instances in this book where I thought, “Okay, really? Was it really necessary to toss in swear words there?” But after thinking about it, I can’t help but wonder if it’s the foul language that holds the novel above excessive angst. And to be honest, I still can’t decide. I mean, I definitely didn’t appreciate the language. I’m just not going to dismiss the possibility that the foul language is what saved the novel from being another mediocre, melodramatic, coming-of-age tale.
The cast of characters Ms. Rosenfield has created is an interesting bunch. Though there wasn’t one particular character that I fell in love with and completely felt for, there were times when certain characters would do something that connected with an event going on in my own life, it sent–-for lack of a better term–-a lurch through me. Like Becca, I’ve lived in a small town all my life, and I completely recognized her confusion about whether to stay with what’s familiar or go off into the unknown. Anyone who’s grown up in a small town will relate to that.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is one of the most interesting, poignant, and brilliant novels I’ve ever read. There were bits of prose that were so beautiful they made me gasp. Ms. Rosenfield has somehow managed to incorporate foul language in a way that had me shaking my head and laughing, trying to figure out if the language adds somehow to the novel or takes something away. And even if you can’t connect with one particular character, this novel will find a way to speak to you. Amelia Anne Richardson may be dead and gone, but Kat Rosenfield’s debut novel is definitely going to live on for a long time.
- Rachel P., 17