Review by Frank Plowright
The central questions of this volume are will life always disappoint? And just what’s holding Amelia back? That’s a topic that puzzles her as well, and in typical Jimmy Gownley fashion, it’s resolved in a manner of speaking, but without an easy answer.
On some levels matters seem to be improving for Amelia. Her father’s given up his New York job to move to Pennsylvania, he and her mother appear to be knocking along pretty well, and Amelia’s also promoted to the cheerleading squad. In contrast to True Things (Adults don’t want Kids to Know), Amelia’s pals are back in full force, with plenty of things to keep them occupied. There’s rebuilding Reggie’s superhero clubhouse for one, and he’s a happy laddie on realising that his faux superhero exploits have influenced a younger generation. Rhoda pulls a fantastic stunt, and there’s a brilliant change of mood to tragedy and the difficulty everyone experiences in coping, or even just knowing what to say. It’s one of a couple of real lump in throat moments.
As ever, the cartooning is clear, clean and appealing, and Gownley’s also back to incorporating the visual whimsy that characterised most previous volumes. There’s both Kirby style and manga style depictions of Reggie’s exploits, references to the past illustrated as if on old, browned comic pages, and Aunt Tanner’s diary. That’s located by Amelia who learns Tanner’s problems were very similar to her own, and she vows to continue the entries from where Tanner stopped. Gownley has fun with the earlier entries, displaying how Tanner has come to become much of what she despised at nine years old, and delivering a surprising revelation.
Once again, all life is here, and its ups and downs are treated in wry, amusing and thoroughly likeable fashion. Sadly, the series concludes with Her Permanent Record.