On a warm summer night, 18-year-old Becca finds herself abruptly dumped by her boyfriend while lying in the back of his pickup truck. At the same time, not even a mile away, Amelia Anne Richardson is being brutally murdered. The following day, her dry, broken corpse is discovered on the side of the highway, and Becca sinks into a haze of confusion, questioning her future, her parents’ relationship, her friends, and the people she’s grown up with.
Kat Rosenfield’s debut novel is undoubtedly a murder mystery, but at its heart, it’s an examination of the morbid stagnation of small town life—the gossip, the clannishness, the irresistible lure of staying in stasis instead of moving on.
Because of this emphasis on atmosphere and character, this book would be an excellent young adult counterpart to authors like Gillian Flynn and Daniel Woodrell. The prose is beautiful, the characters are layered, and even seemingly innocuous things like wild roses, half-submerged tractors and empty shopping carts take on a life of their own once imbued with the history of this small, taciturn town. However, there is a price to this; the plot of Amelia Anne is secondary to Becca and Bridgeton’s story, and the twist at the end is not much of a twist—the motives and circumstances are fairly transparent from early on. For this reason, I’d recommend Amelia Anne to fans of the literary or the psychological, although there is some subject matter, including some truly disturbing violence, which may not be for every reader.