by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
A certain category of books is magic for book lovers: books about the magic of books. (As my students would say: how meta.) Ashley Schumacher’s Amelia Unabridged offers that precise type of magic. Had I not started this YA debut novel at 11:00 on a school night, I have no doubt that I would have read it in one fell swoop.
Amelia Unabridged is about loss and grieving, about love and friendship, and (as stated) about books and reading. After Amelia Griffin’s father abandons Amelia and her mom to live with a woman not much older than Amelia, her mother basically leaves, too, absent for all but the shell of herself who sits and watches tv in their home. Seeking escape, Amelia goes to her local bookstore where Jenna, an acquaintance from school, befriends her. From that time on, Jenna is her “person,” the one who understands Amelia, with whom she plans her future, escapes the desolation of her past, and works through the experiences of her present. Together, they indulge their passions, including the Orman Chronicles, a fantasy series written by N. E. Endsley, a boy who is their age.
When Jenna dies in a horrible tragedy, Amelia is left without her anchor . . . and loses even the comfort of escaping into books. Her only glint of hope appears when she receives a mysterious delivery: a special edition of book one of the Orman Chronicles, numbered 101 of 100. Amelia is convinced that this is her last gift from Jenna, the last sign she’ll ever have of her best friend’s love and care, and so she sets out to solve the mystery. At a bookstore, of course.
I want to describe more of the plot—which features quirky characters, grumpiness and compassion, romance and friendship, and more grief to counter her own—but there’s such joy in the discovery here that I’ll stop summarizing. I’ll just say that it’s been a long time since I read a book that epitomized so vividly the absolute beauty and magic of a story, of a book that can encompass all that I need to read in a moment. I will be reading Amelia Unabridged again and anxiously waiting to pre-order whatever Ashley Schumacher writes next.
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