A major thank you to Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review this ARC! All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own, and were not influenced by the gifted ARC in any way.
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.
- Title: Amelia Unabridged
- Author: Ashley Schumacher
- Publication Date: February 16, 2021
- Publisher: Wednesday Books
- Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
- Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
- Trigger Warnings: Neglectful parents, animal death (chapter 2), death of a friend, death of a sibling, car crash (ch 3), drowning, grief, anxiety, divorce, panic attacks, infidelity, blood(ch 11), cancer, guilt, mentions/references to Harry Potter
- Rating: ★★★★★
Amelia Unabridged is a tale of grief, of healing, and of hope. It’s a story of loss and love, of friendship and family, and making your own path. It’s an ode to stories and books, to magical places and escapism. You know those books that resonate with you so deeply that it’s hard for you to explain why you love it so much? Amelia Unabridged was one of those books for me. Shortly after I finished reading Amelia Unabridged, I was instantly messaging everyone I know to tell them how they had to read it.
Ashley Schumacher has crafted a wonderfully descriptive tale. Whether it was Lochbrook, Michigan, or Orman itself, I often felt like I was there in the moment. Schumacher’s writing was beautiful and I truly felt like I had been transported to Val’s bookshop with Amelia, to Nolan’s “fort”, to the Orman room, or even within the pages of the Orman Chronicles themselves. I could easily imagine Wally jumping up on me, the waves, the smell of Val’s, and most of all, how it felt to open up the Orman Chronicles and disappear into that world.
One of the things I loved the most about Amelia Unabridged was how it truly was a love story to books, and to the places we call home. Books are often healing, comforting worlds for us to step into, and sometimes, those books also allow us to meet other people and bring them closer to us. Whenever I share a book that I love and feel extremely personally connected to with someone else, there’s always this sort of nervousness that accompanies that feeling. But when they love it too? It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. A popular meme in my friend group is “the mortifying ordeal of being known”, but when people read a book that I relate to and find personal and tell me which bits reminded them of me, or how they feel like they know me better now, there’s no words to describe that. Fandoms and books have the capability to invoke this special bond, and Amelia Unabridged is a homage to that. Something that Schumacher excels at was writing a book within a book, and more than once, I found myself wishing that the Orman Chronicles were a real story.
While grief isn’t an uncommon subject in YA, and what resonates with one person might not resonate with the other, the way grief is approached in Amelia Unabridged is one that really resonated with me. The way Amelia Unabridged explores healing and coping after a tragedy, moving on & living your own life, and coming into yourself hit really close to home for me, and brought me a lot of comfort, especially after experiencing a loss in the family.
My heart broke for Amelia, and Nolan/N.E. (as well as the other cast of characters; Jenna, Val, Alex) over and over again, and I found myself getting teary-eyed on multiple occasions. I completely felt for Amelia, and Nolan (or N.E. Endsley, as he’s more commonly known), and the circumstances they’d been through. I really enjoyed reading about Amelia and Nolan, and watching their relationship develop. I loved how they were able to find comfort and solace in one another, and how they were able to help each other heal. It felt like a genuine connection, and while Amelia was only in town for a short while, it didn’t bother me in the same way that most ‘instalust/love’ does. It didn’t feel like instalove at all, even though the main events of Amelia Unabridged happens over a week. They felt like a properly developed relationship, and their shared grief and trauma made their bond realistic to me. If anything, Amelia and Nolan’s relationship reminded me of Taylor Swift’s invisible string.
The strong friendships in Amelia Unabridged was another thing that I loved. While we didn’t see a lot of Jenna, I felt like I knew her deeply, through Amelia’s memories and tales. It was evident how much of an influence Jenna had on Amelia, and how much Nolan and Alex cared for each other, and vice versa. I’m also a huge sucker for the found family trope, and loved watching it play out here.
Overall, Amelia Unabridged was such a compelling read, and I can’t wait to see what Schumacher writes next. I’m certain that Amelia Unabridged is a story that will stick with me for a long time.
Ashley Schumacher is a young adult author represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and a graduate of the University of North Texas with a degree in creative writing. She is also a firm believer that reading is the best education a writer can receive. Ashley is a lifelong supporter of libraries, independent bookstores, and the booksellers and librarians that bring stories to their perfect readers.
She lives in a small town with her antisocial but lovable husband and more books than is strictly necessary. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her belting Disney or Broadway songs, protecting her snacks from her greedy golden retriever, hand embroidering, or playing Mario Kart. Amelia Unabridged is her first novel. She lives in Dallas, Texas.