Sparks fly between two teens as they grapple with grief, love, and the future.
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.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions contained within are my own.
Wow, did this book just jump my feelings in a dark alley or what? Like… I knew it was going to be sad. I wasn’t prepared for exactly how emotional it would make me, though! How dare it be so beautiful and lyrical and heart-wrenching all at the same time 😭
In Amelia Unabridged, we follow a bookish young woman named Amelia Griffin. After her father leaves, Amelia finds comfort in books and her best friend, Jenna. They actually bonded over the first book in Amelia’s favorite series, the Orman Chronicles by N.E. Endsley. So, when Amelia and Jenna get the chance to attend a book festival and a book talk by the one and only Endsley, Amelia is over the moon. Things don’t go as planned, however, and, when Amelia finds out that Jenna somehow managed to meet the elusive author face-to-face and didn’t tell her, they have a huge fight. Shortly after, Jenna is dead, killed in a car accident while studying abroad. Now, Amelia is left to grapple with her grief, her guilt, and a mystery when an exclusive edition of the Orman Chronicles shows up from a bookstore in Michigan that she highly suspects was sent to her by Jenna. Now, Amelia is on a mission to figure out the origin of this beautiful book and what message, if any, Jenna was trying to tell her with this final gift.
As I mentioned, I knew that the main theme of this novel was grief. How it’s different for everyone, how it manifests in different people, and how terrible and all-consuming it can be. I was fully prepared to shed a few tears. There was something about this book, however, that dug deeper into my emotions and really made me feel Amelia’s grief over the loss of Jenna. I have to credit, in part, the absolutely gorgeous writing. Ashley Schumacher has a way of weaving words that completely envelope you and make you a part of the story. The writing is rich, beautiful, and something I want to experience over and over again.
I also loved the whimsical elements of this story. Amelia is, at heart, a reader and, beyond that, she is a lover of fantasy. Getting to live inside her head for the duration of this story was an absolute delight. Not because of her rage and grief and confusion, though those were all masterfully portrayed. It was because of her beautiful imagination. I loved when she would speak of the ‘clever wind’ or imagine herself watching a pod of whales swimming through the skies. I will say the whales get mentioned a lot and there were a few times near the middle where I was like… alright, we get it. But then, they were a big component of Amelia’s emotional coping mechanism, so it kinda makes sense.
The one thing that left me feeling a little ‘meh’ was the romance. Don’t get me wrong! I thought it was sweet and well-developed, I’ve just never been a fan of insta-love. And falling in love with some random and slightly anti-social boy you’ve just met in less than a week is definitely insta-love. Even if you strongly disliked him the first day. Again, I don’t mean to say that the budding romance was poorly written. The author did an incredible job subtly displaying their growing and changing relationship and, by the end, even my cynical little heart was rooting for them. But that particular trope is not and will never be my cup of tea.
Of course, I had the wonderful descriptions of the Michigan bookshop to tide me over, so I was okay with a little way-too-soon smoochiness 😂
Final thoughts: This book has a lot going for it. It’s beautiful written, with a main character that is compellingly conveyed and descriptions that transport you into the story. You’ll find yourself easily picturing the cozy bookshop in Michigan where Amelia finds herself wrestling with grief and falling in love. I’m not a fan of insta-love, but I will say that the romance is well-written and rather touching. The imagery in this story is gorgeous and whimsical, which I thought was a lovely touch when dealing with something as heavy as grief. Prepare to have your emotions assaulted and, in the end, be grateful for it!