My thoughts: If you read this blog, you might have noticed I have a fondness for fiction about real people. You also might have noticed I grew in Kansas. As a young girl in Kansas, I was rather enamored with Amelia Earhart. What's not to like? She was from Kansas, like me. She dreamed of travel and other places, like me. Her disappearance was mysterious (thankfully, not like me.) Unlike many of my childhood fascinations, I haven't outgrown Amelia Earhart.
That lengthy exposition indicates how high my expectations were, even though I didn't know quite what to expect. The title indicates the basics: it's the story of Amelia Earhart, narrated by email, after the fateful flight. Awesome, right? If you answered no, then it might not be the book for you anyway.
The book begins before the flight, and it does set the stage well. Some of the details will be familiar to those who know something about Amelia, but Mendelsohn's writing is so gorgeous, I welcomed the chance to remember things I once knew.
"Back then, a plane was called a ship. There were still cabins, and a sense of voyaging. There was a reverence for flight because it was so dangerous. People lost themselves. There was no safety."Part of the magic of this novel for me was imagining what else might have happened. I adored Mendelsohn's idea of what might have happened, but she wrote it in such a way I savored every possible juicy detail while also wondering, 'what if?'
What shined most brightly, however, was Amelia herself. Mendelsohn completely captured the image I had of her:
"Because I want to. And because I think women should do for themselves the things that men have done, and have not done."Ultimately this novel is about Amelia. It's a character-driven realistic fantasy. It's real enough to feel like an appropriate ending for Amelia, yet it's fantastic enough to make me marvel and imagine myself in her shoes.
Favorite passage: "Much later, when I looked back on the flight, it seemed to me that we had been two lost souls in an immense netherwold, traveling toward an arbitrary goal, wondering which of us was more forsaken: the navigator who didn't care where we were going, or the pilot who didn't care if we ever got there."
The verdict: I Was Amelia Earhart is a fascinating 'what if?' glimpse into a fascinating woman. I was as mesmerized by Mendelsohn's writing as I was by Amelia's story. It's a book that will stay with me for quite some time.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 160 pages
Publication date: May 30, 1996
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