Sunday, March 7, 2021

Review: Amelia Unabridged by Ashley Schumacher

by Ashley Schumacher
Release Date: February 16th 2021
2021 Wednesday Books
Kindle Edition; 304 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250253026
Genre: Fiction / YA / Contemporary
Source: Review copy from publisher

2.5 / 5 Stars

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.
My Thoughts
Amelia Unabridged is one of those books for which I really struggled while writing this review. This is the type of book over which many readers will fall in love and gush over it, but I just couldn't do it for many reasons.  I am the type of eclectic reader that doesn't like to really put genres on a book as I think that anyone of any age can read any book, and I tend to pick them up because I find the content interesting, including children's fiction.  This one did not touch me the way it did others, and I did have a huge problem with the way mental issues were resolved so easily.  
The concept of this book was hugely fascinating though and I love stories where something mysterious happens and you have to search out the reason why. And I have to say that he book cover is gorgeous!  I don't usually pay a lot of attention to them, but I really, really liked this one.  After Jenna's death, Amelia receives a limited edition of her favourite book and is convinced that it had to do with Jenna so she goes in search of the truth. The focus on books is always thrilling and I loved how the author incorporated many of the reasons book lovers read into this story.  I also loved how she didn't just focus on books as a way to tell a story, but allowed for other opportunities and mediums to do so, such as Amelia's photography.  However, as someone with a Master's Degree in Children's Literature, I did feel kind of offended at the 'unintended?' slight over universities and professors, especially of English literature, and how we are more interested in how valuable a book is over the content, especially when it comes to discussing / arguing over it.  Sorry, what did I spend two years doing then? I definitely wasn't searching for rare editions of books.

I am also going to admit right here that I was not a fan of Amelia in this story.  The story did focus on grief, both Amelia's and Nolan's, but that was to be expected and I would have felt cheated otherwise, but Amelia's behaviour just turned me right off.  When Amelia first meets Nolan, she DEMANDS information from him regarding Jenna and the book and her entitlement just drove me up the wall,  I found myself frowning while I was reading, which was not a good sign, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why Nolan would tell her all about himself after that type of behaviour when he didn't share anything with anyone.  It just..didn't..make..sense!!! The whole thing turned me right off and I almost DNF the book right then and there.  
And now we come to the part where grief and mental illness come into play and this is the part that bothered me the most.  Nolan had a huge tragedy in his past that he didn't reveal to anyone, and because of this he had this huge fear of water, so paralyzing he couldn't save his dog during a storm.  Now, along comes Amelia, and due to her 'love', she is able to convince him to do things he wouldn't have been able to do otherwise, like a couple of days later sit on a boat or stand in the surf.  Are you kidding me?  THIS IS NOT HOW MENTAL ILLNESS WORKS!!   You can't just fall in love, and suddenly it all becomes happily ever after.  I'm sorry, but I really feel this does a disservice to all of those who are struggling with mental illness.  And I'm not even going to start on the 'insta-love' thing. Stupid trope! 

So, what kept me going?  The dog!!  Oh, my goodness, how I loved that crazy, crazy dog.  And he drinks coffee! I chuckled out loud quite a few times during the scenes in which that dog played a huge role.  He reminded me of a friend's dog, Stu, who was this crazy, big dog who crashed into everything and jumped on you all the time, but was the most lovable dog ever.
Amelia Unabridged is one of those books I wished I could have loved a bit more.  I thought the concept was quite interesting and I love anything to do with books and bookstores.  The book deals with grief, growing up, and making decisions, some of which I did like.  However, I felt like the romance was too rushed and didn't feel right, at least to me.  And I definitely had issues with the way anxiety was dealt with in this book.  A lot of people liked this book a lot however, so I encourage you to check it out for yourself.