Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone
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An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent
Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life. Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.
Sure. Just having some fun.” “Oh, so now it’s all a big joke?” I snapped. “Is this funny to you? Maybe Craig doesn’t care about catching a murderer, but—” “Hey, Rebecca,” Craig said, sneering my name like it was a dirty word, “if you care so much, why don’t you go wait out by the side of the road for a while? Maybe he’ll come back.” I stood up, ready to fight. James stepped between us, his voice cutting through the tension. “Stop it. Both of you.” I looked at his face and
Brendan, bored and lonely behind the walls of his family’s summer retreat, thought he had never seen anything so cool. Later, behind closed doors and over a coffee-stained folding table at the police station, ten terrified kids and one inconsolable woman knit the two ends of the story together: how he’d called out his plan to walk down to the bridge; how his mother, watching the local boys splashing safely down in the cool water, had given her reluctant okay; how he had appeared,
woman with veiny hands, skin like old tissue paper, coffee-stained teeth that were flashing in a broad, uneven smile. He was here, in this house, on this stairway, with his mother’s long shadow darkening the wall beside him. I could still remember that photograph. In it, he was turned toward the place where she had been standing, beyond the reach of the camera’s eye. His face was an open shout of delight at the surprise, Mommy, whose body was blocking the light that poured through the
sucking smack of tongue against teeth, the way the spittle had flecked on the fat pink shelf of his lower lip. Licking his chops at other people’s pain. I stood just behind the swinging doors to the kitchen, watching him sit at the bar, watching him swearing and laughing and brazenly drinking beer while he waited for Lindsay to finish her shift and come sit beside him. I watched the way he watched her, all slow-moving tongue and small eyes, appraising her body as though it belonged to him.
inhaled, praying that I wouldn’t embarrass myself by coughing. He was right, of course—I didn’t smoke. I exhaled, blowing the thin stream upward, toward the overhead crochet of treetops. “So, it’s James?” I said. “Right,” he said. “James, like James Dean.” “Right again.” “What are you, a rebel? High school dropout, smoker for life?” He eyed me. “Who says I’m a high school dropout.” “You’re not?” He shook his head. “I thought you quit last year,” I