Today I start my first of the Edgar-nominated YA and juvenile mystery books for 2013. If you haven’t seen the list of nominees, you’ll find them here. I’m starting off with Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone because, quite frankly, it was the only one of the nominees I could find at the library last weekend. I’ll give you the basics first, and then my thoughts on it.
Author: Kat Rosenfield
Age group: YA (definitely teens not preteens)
Synopsis: Becca can’t wait to break free from her small town as soon as high school graduation is over, but when her boyfriend breaks up with her first, her world spins out of control. That same night, Amelia Anne, a recent college graduate, is killed on the road outside Becca’s small town. The story is told from two perspectives: Becca’s first person narrative and a third-person narrative of the events that led up to Amelia Anne’s death. The question: Who in the small town killed Amelia, and how is her life intertwined with Becca’s?
Does it pass the “Homeschool Mom Test“? Let’s see. The story opens with Becca having sex with her boyfriend in the back of his truck. She drops f-bombs throughout the story. She and a bunch of her friends engage in underage drinking without any real consequences. And oh yeah, Becca gets drunk with her mom at one point. Hmm. Yes, I think I can safely say that none of the homeschool moms I know would buy this book for their daughter. Edgy may be popular in the publishing world, but it’s not popular with homeschooling moms.
Bottom line? The author has a nice literary style about her writing. The way she personifies the murderous death of Amelia Anne as it worms its way into the small town is quite lyrical. (Sample: “An anonymous death in a small town, that’s a different thing. It makes people uneasy . . . It seeps around the corners of locked front doors. It creeps into people’s bedrooms. It runs in their veins.”) However, the best mysteries I’ve read are ones where the ending takes me by surprise, and I guessed the ending of this book early on. So bottom line, I won’t be buying this for my classroom (not appropriate for sixth graders!) and I won’t be buying it for my teenage niece.
Will it win the Edgar Award for best Young Adult mystery? Who knows. This is the only one of the nominees I’ve read so far!