Review by Frank Plowright
In comparison with the sadness explored in Superheroes, the initial chapters here seem relatively lightweight, despite dealing with Amelia and her friend Sunday running away from home. They’re well constructed and charming slapstick involving an elderly babysitter and another of Reggie’s preposterous plans, but the regular undercurrent of events Amelia doesn’t entirely comprehend is missing.
Jimmy Gownley then shifts up a gear to concentrate on another of Amelia’s friends, Joan. Her father is a serving soldier, meaning that Amelia’s traumatic time when leaving her home and friends has been experienced by Joan on several occasions. In this case, though, a move to Alabama is off the cards, but the good tidings are rapidly supplanted by bad as news filters through that Joan’s father is to be deployed on active service for a year. Against the background of a junior school prom Gownley weaves a heartbreaking story that’s among the most affecting of Amelia Rules!
He then takes that further by tying in problems Amelia’s having discussing something that’s been preying on her mind. It’s an act of kindness that occurred before Amelia realised the sentimental value of the object concerned, and Gownley excellently defines the combination of guilt and gratitude.
A previously-used device of relating family history via approximations of old cartoon strips is reprised here to good effect as Amelia learns about her mother’s Aunt Sarah, child of early 20th century immigrants the USA.
Another matter beginning to take prominence here is Amelia’s growing attraction to Kyle, despite his previous negligent behaviour. It’s a tentative coming together well observed by Gownley, as Amelia herself isn’t quite sure about what she’s doing. While continuity isn’t essential to Amelia Rules!, the next instalment is The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular.