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.
Note: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this book as a coming-of-age novel and as an exploration of mental health issues. This has really come to the forefront of YA in the last couple of years in particular, with books such as Am I Normal Yet?, Nothing Tastes As Good and Under Rose-Tainted Skies’ all tackling and talking about real issues. Along with Juno Dawson’s non-fictional Mind Your Head, there is now a wealth of information and relatable stories out there on YA bookshelves tha must really give hope and inspiration to young people with their own mental health issues.
The Movie Version‘s main feeatures are a strong narrative from the first-person perspective of AMelia, and dynamic characters, most notably her brother Toby. Toby is a hero, a role model and a best friend to Amelia, and we get frequent flashbacks, written in scripted form, showing how caring, generous and random Toby has been with Amelia and their younger twin brothers throughout their childhoods and into adolescence.
The book is split simply into two parts – before and after. It’s unfair to spoil what causes that split but the signs are there from early on. Toby and Amelia’s worlds revolve around watching and quoting movies, to the point where they imagine what the ‘movie version’ of their everyday lives would look like. We also hear Amelia’s inner monologue gently ribbing Netflix categories, the best being when she creates a specific Netflix list catered to her dog’s taste in movies.
Things begin to disintegrate however, leaving Amelia and Toby somewhat isolated from each other. I found these parts particularly effective, as we begin to learn more about the character of Amelia, as she is forced to wean herself off relying on Toby. Both characters are so engaging and entertaining that I haven’t even mentioned their eclectic bunch of friends, including Toast and Muppet. Amelia’s friend, Ray, is probably the best written of their friends, an understated character with her own struggles in life.
The Movie Version is a great read, with satisfying character arcs for our main characters. There’s aso hundreds of movie references in there too, particularly in the first half of the book, which were clever and funny. It reminded me that we do often quote movies and TV at a rate that is not really reflected in this medium!
A recommended read, difficult at times because of the more serious subject matter that emerges, but again it’s a powerful portrayal by a contemporary YA author, dealing with real issues.