For Becca, life has always been about getting away from her small hometown, and college is the path to that freedom. When the body of a young girl is found on the side of a dirt road, the town is whipped up into a frenzy of gossip and speculation. Becca finds herself obsessed with the identity of the dead girl and becomes frozen in her own mind. Instead of moving forward, she finds herself at a standstill.
Kat Rosenfield’s debut novel is a creepy, haunting tale about two girls and their search for identity in a sometimes sinister world. Gripping, mesmerizing, and absolutely compelling, Rosenfield’s debut is one of the best YA novels of the year.
There’s a lot to love about Rosenfield’s book, starting with the strong, remarkably well-drawn characters and continuing with the vivid setting of the stifling small town. Rosenfield switches between first-person narration with Becca and third-person flashbacks of Amelia Anne’s last days on Earth, and the effect is pitch-perfect. Even though readers know what is to become of Amelia Anne, the events leading up to her gruesome death are fascinating. Both girls are on the cusp of discovering their true selves, and each one could easily be the other. Becca’s increasing obsession with what happened to Amelia Anne feels authentic and is incredibly powerful.
Rosenfield deftly explores the dynamics of a small town turned against itself. The navigation of the tension between the townsfolk and the wealthy people who spend their summers there is expertly done. Everything about this story works. Rosenfield’s language is precise and vivid and only rarely goes a little too far in its descriptions. As far as character-driven novels go, this one is a sharp character study that this reader won’t soon forget.
This is a book that sits with the reader long after the last page has been turned. Although Rosenfield’s prose won’t work for everyone, sophisticated readers will gobble this one up. Highly, highly recommended.
Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield. Dutton Juvenile: 2012. Library copy.