So, here’s the thing – when your life crashes down around you, you don’t always do, feel, or think the right things. That is the honesty this book has to offer. If you are looking for a perfect protagonist, don’t bother. If you are looking for a book that is realistic and relatable, this might be your book. I gave The Movie Version four stars.
A whip-smart, heart-wrenching debut YA novel about first love, first loss, and filmmaking that will delight fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer Niven
In the movie version of Amelia’s life, the roles have always been clear. Her older brother, Toby: definitely the Star. As popular with the stoners as he is with the cheerleaders, Toby is someone you’d pay ten bucks to watch sweep Battle of the Bands and build a “beach party” in the bathroom. As for Amelia? She’s Toby Anderson’s Younger Sister. She’s perfectly happy to watch Toby’s hijinks from the sidelines, when she’s not engrossed in one of her elaborately themed Netflix movie marathons.
But recently Toby’s been acting in a very non-movie-version way. He’s stopped hanging out with his horde of friends and started obsessively journaling and disappearing for days at a time. Amelia doesn’t know what’s happened to her awesome older brother, or who this strange actor is that’s taken his place. And there’s someone else pulling at her attention: a smart, cute new boyfriend who wants to know the real Amelia—not Toby’s Sidekick. Amelia feels adrift without her star, but to best help Toby—and herself—it might be time to cast a new role: Amelia Anderson, leading lady.
Amelia, the narrator, experiences a bunch of life altering events all at the same time, and she doesn’t always come across looking good. She is sometimes selfish, sometimes angry, sometimes willfully ignorant. She is also loving, resilient, and open minded. That doesn’t always make it easy to like her, but I think it does make it easy to feel like average and good human beings sometimes flub things up and they can bounce back. That is the message of the story for me, and I think it is a message that many YA readers will respond to. The beef some readers will have with that honesty is that it doesn’t portray the perfect and socially progressive response to mental illness. However, that is the point – people aren’t living a movie version of life, and we certainly aren’t always camera ready. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t flinch in the face of adversity, but real YA’s need to know they aren’t alone when they find themselves in our imperfect reality with their own imperfect responses. This book offers that perspective, and I think it is an important one. That being said, I found Amelia frustratingly awkward at times, and her experience with first love isn’t going to be the romance you keep coming back for. Again, it’s honest but not always pleasant. I did like the way the author used flashbacks to reveal Amelia’s devotion to her brother, but sometimes I thought they were just distracting. Overall, I liked the message, but I wasn’t as engaged by the presentation. Language and some sexual situations make this most appropriate for more mature high school readers.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.