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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Secrets of Amelia by Andrea Anderson is an emotionally rich, character-driven young adult romance that is well-plotted, beautifully written, and compelling. It is the story of Amelia, a young girl who grows up knowing nothing but farm work. While she is hard-working, she deeply feels that her place is beyond the farms. She has dreams, which she shares with Ida, dreams of going to college. But she witnesses a painful act that can destroy her family. She has a dark secret to keep, one that involves a close family member, and she can’t even share it with Ida. She can’t even share what she heard her mother say about her, and while she feels humiliated, she is determined to keep the secret to herself. Her father is already very upset. Can she free herself from the invading darkness and find her path?
This novel has a unique plot structure and it begins with a dramatic moment. From that moment, I wanted to follow how the relationship between these characters (Amelia, Shelly, and Betty) evolves. The story is punctuated by secrets, thoughts, fears, and the emotions of the protagonist are highlighted. The characters are well-developed and Andrea Anderson builds up a solid personality for the protagonist from her background, a young woman growing up among male siblings, getting hurt and morphing into a strong woman who can make her own choices. The themes of family, education, and friendship are well-written into the narrative. Secrets of Amelia also looks at sexual abuse and how the choices we make determine the level of freedom we experience. The story is deeply moving, filled with emotionally intense moments, and featuring characters that are real.