Goodreads: Amelia Unabridged
Genres: Young Adult; Contemporary; Romance; Mystery
Publication date: February 16, 2021
Eighteen-year-old Amelia Griffin is obsessed with the famous Orman Chronicles, written by the young and reclusive prodigy N. E. Endsley. They’re the books that brought her and her best friend Jenna together after Amelia’s father left and her family imploded. So when Amelia and Jenna get the opportunity to attend a book festival with Endsley in attendance, Amelia is ecstatic. It’s the perfect way to start off their last summer before college.
In a heartbeat, everything goes horribly wrong. When Jenna gets a chance to meet the author and Amelia doesn’t, the two have a blowout fight like they’ve never experienced. And before Amelia has a chance to mend things, Jenna is killed in a freak car accident. Grief-stricken, and without her best friend to guide her, Amelia questions everything she had planned for the future.
When a mysterious, rare edition of the Orman Chronicles arrives, Amelia is convinced that it somehow came from Jenna. Tracking the book to an obscure but enchanting bookstore in Michigan, Amelia is shocked to find herself face-to-face with the enigmatic and handsome N. E. Endsley himself, the reason for Amelia’s and Jenna’s fight and perhaps the clue to what Jenna wanted to tell her all along.
If my life were a book, I would start here, standing in front of the long row of check-in tables at the California Children’s Book Festival with something that feels very much like hope blooming in my chest.
And if Jenna were the editor of my book – and she totally would be, because she’d want to make sure I got it right – she would disagree. She would say I should start from when we first met, or six days ago, when we graduated from Crescent High to tearful hugs from her parents and distant pats from my mother. But just this once I’ll ignore Jenna’s advice and start here, standing in the middle of the atrium, staring upward at the huge, colorful banner suspended above the check-in.Chapter One
I did not expect this book to make me feel so much. That has absolutely nothing to do with this book’s potential. It’s purely because I hadn’t really looked into this story before picking it up. In reality, I needed a read for my 30 books in 30 days challenge and I wanted an AudioBook. This just so happened to be the first AudioBook from the library I saw that caught my attention.
While I might not have looked into this book much before picking it up, I’m glad that I did. A story about a girl whose best friend just died might not seem like it would be a whimsical tale, but it really felt like it was one. While no real magic existed in this world, the magic of its world jumped right off its pages. Well, right off the narrator’s tongue in my case since I listened to the AudioBook.
Lesa Wilson does an amazing job at narrating this story. She did a marvelous job at bringing this story to life with her words. Schumacher’s writing does a lot of the heavy lifting, of course, but Wilson’s emotion truly helped weave more magic into this world. If you’re a fan of AudioBooks, you might want to give this one a try.
If we look at the story itself, Schumacher managed to bring a pocket of magic into the world – both Amelia’s and our own – with this story. This story if fraught with guilt and sadness, pain and heartbreak. Amelia’s lost her best friend and is struggling to find a way to keep going. Everything that meant something to her before – the books she loves to read, the found family she discovered with Jenna and her parents – are all meaningless to her now. Yet being in Amelia’s head is a way to look at the world with wonder and amazement. Through Amelia’s eyes, the world seems brighter and more colourful. It seems full of promise and adventure.
Survivor’s guilt is a main undercurrent in this story. It dictates a lot of the decisions Amelia makes and the actions she takes. But she’s not the only one that feels it.
It’s hard at times to believe that Amelia’s going to find herself again, to determine her own place in the world. It’s a struggle for her to wake up in the morning and act normal. But she’s willing to try, if only to follow Jenna’s plan for her.
I’m glad I got to experience Amelia’s world, to read her story. It’s not a “happily every after” type read, but it’s raw and real. It’s an ending full of promise. And if that’s something that sounds interesting to you, there’s nothing stopping you from picking this read up.
My absolute favourite part of this story might just be the moment Nolan finally tells Amelia what he and Jenna spoke about. When he admits he recognized her upon their first meeting because he’d already seen a picture of her. When he tells her that Jenna shooed him off before Amelia showed up because she was going to force him to be her friend.
It was almost prophetic, but that just goes to show how well Jenna knew her friend. She knew that Amelia would worm her way into Nolan’s heart and mind, just like Amelia had done to her all those years before. Jenna knew Amelia would see a broken person and would do everything in her power to bring him back to life. The only thing she didn’t predict was that Amelia would be so broken upon their meeting that she’d have to put herself back together first.
Amelia’s life has never been easy for her. Even before her dad left, things didn’t seem easy. Yet somehow everything seemed better with Jenna in her life. For someone who finally felt like they belonged, it’s understandable that she was unmoored when Jenna left. When the center of her universe was destroyed, Amelia had to find a way to keep living.
Amelia’s world has always been one of wonder and magic, of escaping into different worlds to make herself feel whole. And when she couldn’t do that, she’d fine time to bring the mystical into the everyday. After all, who else do you know that goes whale watching in the sky?
When she received the 101st limited edition if the first book from the Orman Chronicles, more than anything this was her excuse to find herself again. To rediscover the magic of the world, if only through the book that helped her find her best friend. It doesn’t hurt that it gave her a perfect opportunity to escape from her pain from losing Jenna.
Things certainly didn’t go as smoothly as Amelia was expecting, but I believe that’s for the best. If she’d shown up and Alex had told her everything she wanted to know, she never would have gotten Nolan. She never would have rediscovered the beauty of the world around her. Heck, Amelia probably would have followed Jenna’s plan for her and been miserable her entire life.
I think it shows a lot of growth in Amelia that she was able to let go of Jenna’s plan for her future, even if it took her a while to figure it out and get back to where she needed to be. Jenna was her whole life, I can understand why Amelia wouldn’t want to let go of any part of her now that she’s gone.
And then we have Nolan. Learning about his history, it’s easy to see why he became a reclusive author. He’s gone through just as much as Amelia in his young life, and his “Jenna” is the only reason he’s kept it together as much as he has. He might have lost his sisters and not his best friend, but there are certainly parallels between Amelia’s and Nolan’s lives.
While it’s true that the romance in this story is insta-love (only taking place over the span of a week), it was done beautifully. It’s not all sunshine and roses for them from the beginning. They had to work hard to get to know each other. I’d put this story more into an insta-infatuation category than insta-love, but I can’t fault the book for this. I can still remember people acting like this when I was a teenager.
For me, the saving grace of this insta-infatuation would be the open ended nature of the story. While we get a hint as to what “could be”, there are no absolutes in the ending. Nolan and Amelia could live happily every after with each other, but there’s no promise that this is how things will be. They’re young, they still view the world with rose coloured glasses. Sure they’ve had immense heartbreak within their short lifetimes, but I can’t believe the world has fully beaten optimism out of them. And that’s refreshing.
Now please excuse me as I deal with my book hangover and sit in the corner looking for whales.