Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming is a must read biography sure to keep you glued to the pages until the very end.
Rave reviews of this book have been sailing in (see below), but I admit I was wondering how that could be, given the ending is well known and not only that, it is a tragic ending. How could any author add suspense to such a scenario?
Turns out with a keen nose for historical accuracy and a fabulous ability for storytelling, Candace Fleming did just that. Turning the chronological format on end, she starts the book with the Coast Guard cutter Itasca waiting for Amelia Earhart to show up at tiny Howland Island, the most dangerous portion of her trip in the attempt to fly around the world. The pages of this section are gray, a pattern followed throughout the book as Fleming jumps from the story of Earhart’s life (white pages) back to the events of the heartbreaking last hours (gray pages). It sounds confusing, but it actually works beautifully.
Fleming points out in “Navigating History” that it was difficult to write a biography of Amelia because of the myths surrounding her. Many of the myths got their start in prevarications told by Earhart herself. With the excuse that her larger than life “heroine” persona was what gave her the income to continue flying, an expensive profession, Earhart did everything she could to keep herself in the limelight. Many times “everything” included flying without adequate preparation, taking big risks, and telling her story the way she thought others wanted to hear it.
Quest for celebrity doesn’t detract from the fact that Amelia Earhart had a big impact on the women of her time, however, and she truly was a heroine. Fleming has managed to find the person behind the persona and still keep her accomplishments at the forefront. Masterful!
If you are at all interested in biographies, aviation history, or simply a good story, then you should pick up a copy. It is definitely an impressive book.
Amelia Lost has been nominated for a 2011 Cybils award in the MG/YA category.
Abby the Librarian (where I read about it first)
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade; First Edition edition (February 8, 2011)