Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Book Review: "Amelia O'Donahue is So Not a Virgin" by Helen FitzGerald

Summary from Amelia O’Donohue was stunning. We all knew we were in the presence of tremendous beauty, humbled by her eyes and by her expensive designer clothes. We all deferred to her, waiting for her to initiate conversation, and hanging on every word she said.

So when Amelia asked for my help, What was I to do? Did I have a choice? It’s not like I could tell everyone that she sneaks off in the middle of the night in her pink silk nightie to sleep with her boyfriend. Right?

But this one favor leads to a secret so big it just might change everything—for Amelia and for me…

Without spoiling anything, the book isn't so much about Amelia O'Donahue as the title or the summary make it out to be. Instead the book is told from the viewpoint of Rachel Ross (a homage perhaps to the Friends super couple?), a new student to a boarding school in Scotland. She comes to the school as someone who has suffered from issues with her parents and due the emotional trauma she's faced, it makes her be a secret keeper. Her first few weeks of school, she becomes a sponge for other students as they tell her their secrets, wishes and problems. Her room almost becomes a confession booth as the girls confide her with things that no one else knows about.

The book then becomes a mystery, as Rachel discovers a newborn baby that has been abandoned by its mother in the school. She sets off to find the mother, trying to figure out if it's a student or a teacher. Along the way she befriends her roommate, Amelia, who carries a few secrets of her own that Rachel has been keeping. Rachel's character seems at first very open with the reader. Since we are seeing things from her perspective, we think we know everything that she knows. What we don't realize is that things are being kept from us that are important and crucial to the story, some that even she doesn't realize.

The ending of the book honesty came out of nowhere for me. I did not expect any of that coming and it made, like the characters in the book, want to go over all the events in the past to see if the clues had been there all along. It's a total mind trick on the reader because you thought you knew everything and then BOOM you were wrong. Actually I really enjoyed the twist, although now that you know about the twist, it will not really come as a surprise like it did for me. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. This is apparently FitzGerald's first YA novel and I think it's a winner. I really liked the boarding school setting as well as the fact it takes place in Scotland. The characters are all very interesting and I think the subject matter is also quite timely for the age group. I look forward to reading more YA novels from her in the future.

Amelia O'Donahue is So Not a Virgin by Helen FitzGerald is published by Sourcebooks Fire (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. I have a soft spot for books set in boarding schools so this sounds interesting. Plus, if done correctly, this sounds like it could be an interesting book about teenage female sexuality, perceptions, and stereotypes. I'll have to check it out!

    Thanks for the review!

  2. I'm all about a twist. I wouldn't have watched "Shutter Island" to the end but my sister said to wait and it sure made the movie.

  3. I love a good twisty ending. Adding this to my list now.


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