ARC (Advanced Reading Copy). Published July 5, 2012. Dutton Books (Penguin Group). 277 pp.
“Amelia Anne is dead and gone” started out a bit on the slow side, as details of life in the sleepy town of Bridgeton seemed to overpower whatever theme the author was trying to get across to her readers. Now that she’s graduated high school, Becca is ready and willing to put into effect the plan she’s had for years, to leave her boring life in Bridgeton behind and head off to college. She plans to be part of the group of residents who never return. Unfortunately her love for James, her high school dropout boyfriend, and something that happened that final summer, threaten to keep her plans from coming to fruition.
Interspersed with Becca’s love for James is the constant torment of wondering what happened to Amelia Anne, found murdered on the side of the highway near Bridgeton. Becca is obsessed with the thought that just as something happened to Amelia Anne, who dared to live a dream, so something might happen to her if she leaves Bridgeton to live her own dreams. She allows the death of a stranger to become the death of her own dreams.
Rosenfield tosses in several chapters where readers glimpse Amelia Anne’s life, love and hopes for the future, which give insight into how she wound up in Bridgeton and who murdered her. She also keeps readers guessing as to who could have committed this crime, alternately changing tactics just as readers think they know who did it. The intensity of Amelia Anne’s desire to get out of her own trapped world and live her own life is held in stark contrast to Becca’s dwindling plans for her own future.
“Amelia Anne is dead and gone” is rather deep, and will take a bit of plowing through before readers get to its “meat.” Mature High schoolers in 11th-12th grades, as well as adults, may appreciate it.