I don’t even know how to talk about this book. It’s everything I didn’t know I needed. It mostly takes place in Michigan (where I live), it’s in a bookstore, it goes into the worlds authors create and what they mean to readers, and deals with grief in such a complex and beautiful way. What more could you want??
I cried so much. Let’s get to the review!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
Ashley Schumacher’s devastating and beautiful debut, Amelia Unabridged, is about finding hope and strength within yourself, and maybe, just maybe, falling in love while you do it.
This. Book. So I got an eARC from the publisher and ten minutes after I finished it, I went and bought a physical copy so I could hold/hug the book. I cannot be the only one who does this??? But I digress. Let’s talk characters first.
Amelia has so many elements of me in her that it’s hard not to relate. She clings to people who show her love because she’s not getting it elsewhere and fuck, if that’s not a mood. It first starts with her best friend, Jenna, and Jenna’s family. But when Jenna’s gone, Amelia only has her parents left and that’s awkward no matter how much they try to make it not be.
But then THE BOOK arrives. The rare edition. And she doesn’t know who sent it. Was it Jenna? Determined to figure it out, she goes to Michigan where the book was sent from and finds something she never expected (and I’m crying).
She finds love and belonging and community and a support system and people who GET her (and maybe I talked about all this in therapy. whatever.) Did I look up the bookstore in this story to see if it was real so I could go there and never leave?….maybe.
Ok, let’s talk Nolan. Ooomph, the grief. When we first meet him, you can feel it coming off him in waves. We don’t find out what happened for awhile but you know it’s big and you KNOW it’s going to destroy you when you read it. (and it did!).
There are also so many elements of him that I relate to. The guardedness, the anxiety, the shame/blame he puts on himself are all so perfectly shown on the page. But that also means those feelings punch you right in the throat.
BUT when Nolan starts to open up to Amelia and when we see him around people he’s comfortable with, it’s the most beautiful thing you can imagine. Goddamn it, I love Nolan and Amelia so much!
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Val and Alex. Lord have mercy, they are wonderful. Val will take none of your shit but also make sure you are fed and have a place to stay. She will take Nolan to task for be A SAD but also love him unconditionally. She will stare down Amelia when she decides (SPOILER) to go back home but accept her back when she comes to her senses. (SPOILER END).
Alex is the friend we all want. He will tease Nolan until the day he dies but he will also possibly bury your body in the woods if you try to hurt his friend. I love how protective he is of Nolan, especially when Amelia first shows up. But I love when he opens up to her even more.
Jenna’s mother is the sweetest and most understanding and lovely and at a certain point, I wanted to punch Jenna’s dad in the neck.
WALLY!! I love him and his ability to pounce on anyone he wants. I mean…he’s a dog. What’s not to love?!?!
I feel like I already covered so much of the story while talking about the characters but I want to highlight a few points I keep coming back to when I think about this book.
The book convention is delightful. While I haven’t been to a book convention, I have been to other types of cons and those scenes describe the experience perfectly. Sitting on the floor because you cannot walk another inch is definitely something I’ve done a time or two. I really liked the addition of these scenes.
Every scene with Amelia and Nolan was legitimate perfection. Even when they weren’t talking or when they were both upset, we learn something about them each time they’re together. What they’re saying and not saying to each other in those scenes is so well done. I would like a collection of short stories with just them, please!
THE WHALES! I loved this aspect of the book so much. What it means to Amelia and how it shows the depths of her mind and imagination. It’s an incredibly beautiful and poetic part of the book. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.
I know this story is about grief and accepting that people will not be with you forever, but the epilogue is NOT FAIR. Val and Wally are immortal. It’s the rule! Needless to say, the epilogue had me sobbing for 30 minutes after I finished the book.
Clearly, I loved this book more than life and I’d like to crawl into it and never return. 5 out of 5 stars and a bucket of tears (bring tissues). Please read it! It’s just so damn wonderful. And it takes place in Michigan which I LOVE!
Amelia Unabridged by Amy Schumacher is available now!
Thank you to Netgalley and Wednesday Books for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review!
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