Monday, December 27, 2010

Review of The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye

The Private Thoughts of Amelia E. Rye by Bonnie Shimko.  Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2010.

Grandpa Thomas told his granddaughter, Amelia Earhart Rye, that all she would ever need is one true friend, but Amelia doesn’t have even one person she could call a friend. Then Fancy Nelson moves to town, and Amelia finds the best friend she has never had. There is only one problem…Fancy is black! Actually, this isn’t a problem for Amelia and Fancy, just for everyone else. Fancy and her mother live in a big, beautiful mansion owned by Judge Watson, and Fancy has the prettiest clothes Amelia has ever seen! It turns out that Fancy's beautiful mother is really Judge Watson's daughter!  While Amelia thinks that her mother doesn't want or love her, after her death, Amelia finds out what love really is.

This has to be the most delightful book I have read in a long time! Amelia, Fancy, and Grandpa Thomas are extremely well-developed and charming characters. Despite its early 1960s racial setting, the two girls become fast friends. I liked the added twist of having Amelia discover that Margo La Rue, with whom her father ran off, is actually a wonderful, caring woman, and the two develop a loving relationship. Having Grandpa Thomas, Amelia, and Jack, her brother, stand up to Sylvia, their cunning sister, and her greedy husband, Sam, was both funny and gratifying! Although the book is written for a younger audience, I think that it could be thoroughly enjoyed by any age group! It reminds me Fannie Flagg’s books, but written for a younger audience!  There is humor, drama, and small town nostalgia all rolled into this fabulous novel!

This book was a real page-turner. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it for upper elementary, middle school, high school, and public libraries!!!!