Archive for the ‘Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield’ Category

Kat Rosenfield, author of Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone (a great book, by the way) spoke AmeliaAnneto a group of YA librarians the other day (https://2headstogether.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/2-short-ones-from-two-heads-together/). Amelia Anne was her debut novel and although it’s been up for some awards, such as the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery, I’d still consider Ms. Rosenfield an ‘under the radar’ author. So, I asked her for some other under the radar authors and she recommended Nova Ren Suma, describing her as ‘literary’. Ms. Suma has written four books one of which is housed in our children’s area and the rest in Young Adult.

DaniNoirI started with her debut novel Dani Noir, the children’s book and will read them in order of publication. Although I probably wouldn’t classify it as ‘literary’, it was certainly well written and totally enjoyable. Danielle (Dani) Callanzano’s life is in turmoil. Her parents are recently divorced (after her father cheated on her mother). Her father is remarrying. Her mother is constantly crying and Dani can’t forgive her father.  She’s spending her summer at the Little Arts Theater in upstate Shanosha, NY watching Noir movies and envisioning her life as movie scenes, with Rita Hayworth as the femme fatale. Dani definitely has trust issues…if her father lied to her, who else is lying to her.

When Dani sees a girl with polka dot leggings leaving the theater projection booth (manned by Jackson, who is Dani’s friend Elissa’s boyfriend) Dani goes into noir mystery mode, trying to find out what the story is. Along the way, she learns a few things about herself, about friends, life and love.

Now, if you’ve learned anything about me from reading this blog it’s that I’m totally into pulp mysteries. (I found a few more anthologies to add to my collection. Some people, Susan, might call me obsessed.) And guess what…some of those pulp era mysteries (The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Laura, The Postman Always Rings Twice) have been made into some of the best movies. So, not only did I read a fun book, but I came away with a list of 17 Noir movies I need to watch. (I’m starting out with Gilda (with Rita Hayworth) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (with Lana Turner). If these stars don’t qualify as femme fatales, I don’t know who would.)

I am totally looking forward to reading Ms. Suma’s second book, Imaginary Girls.

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CodeNameVerityAs many of you know, I’m not a big Awards person. I’ve seen too many great books go unnoticed and too many mediocre books get nominated. And so it is this year as well with the YA Edgar nominations. Until finishing my current book, I had read two of them…both Edgar-worthy: Amelia Ann is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfeld and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.amelia anne

However, my third read was not in this league. It is by a well known adult mystery author, whose books I’ve never read but I love the TV series based on her books (except for the last season which got a bit weird). However, her foray into YA literature, in my opinion, produced a ho-hum, overly long, hint of telepath non-mystery, with a totally anti-climactic ending. Particularly annoying, I found, was her use of “c’n” when a character wanted to say the word “can”. I don’t know how they speak on the west coast, but here in the east we CAN say the word “CAN” in its entirety. So, I wonder how books are nominated or make it into the final 5, or were they just paying homage to a known writer, because in this particular case, one isn’t like the others.

So, rather than dwell on the negative, I’ll say based on my reading of part of the nominee list, if Code Name Verity or Amelia Ann wins, they truly deserve it. I heartily suggest you read them both.

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I’m back from vacation. It was strenuous (haha). Long walks. Good food. A lot of staring into space either at the ocean or in the woods. However, I did make several mistakes. I tried biking on very hilly roads. Big mistake. I did bag two books, one because there were two characters I truly did not like and based on that the plot didn’t ring true and one because I swore that I read it before, the plot was so familiar. I attribute that to either having read a similar book or having read the reveiws so many times, I thought I read the entire book. (A mind is a terrible thing to lose.) And finally I read a truly bad debut young adult novel about a girl with leukemia.

So, based on all of that, you might think there were no reading highlights, but you’d be wrong. Susan already talked about it but I thought I’d give you a little more.  (It was her suggestion to begin with…and she’s usually right.) So, Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, a debut novel by Kat Rosenfield, was the reading winner. I love opening lines and this book’s opening line is “The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.” Yikes!!! Is that good or what?

The world belonged to Amelia Anne, or so she thought. She had no real passion until her senior year in college when she discovered acting. Her business major boyfriend, Luke, ridiculed her. But to her, the world was calling.

On the other hand, Becca, a high school senior, had her future planned out. Out of town college, big career, never returning to the small town of Bridgeton. Her boyfriend, James, raised on the poor side of town, understood Becca’s need to leave and tried to make a clean break by breaking up with Becca on graduation night.

But everything changes when Amelia Anne’s body is found “where the snaking curves of County Road 128 crossed briefly over Route 9 and then veered off toward the swelling, distant Appalachians”. As it does in small towns, news travels fast, the phones keep ringing, gossip keeps flowing and within, it seems like, minutes everyone is talking about the dead girl. Becca becomes obsessed with it. All of the sudden her plans seems meaningless.

Kat Rosenfield has captured so much in her story. She has captured the dichotomy of the promise seen by Amelia Anne when she gets accepted into a performing arts program vs. the falling apart of Becca’s dreams as she doubts her future. She has captured the heart of a small town, the ‘everybody knows everybody else’s business’, the rumor mills and innuendos, the insiders and outsiders. And she’s done it a prime literary fashion with wonderful language, as evidenced by the snippets above.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is a mystery but it’s also more because it tells the stories of Becca and Amelia Anne. I hope Kat is working on a second book.

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