Reviews

Amelia Westlake Was Never Here, by Erin Gough

lindick's review against another edition

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5.0

4.5 stars rounded up.

For the first 80% of this book, I was like WOW FIVE STARS FOR SURE, and although for some reason the end didn’t charm me *quite* as much as the rest of it (hence the .5 decrease), I still loved it overall.

The premise is gold: a naive goody-two shoes (a total Rachel Berry type) and a self-righteous trouble maker join forces to create a fictional persona to carry out a series of pranks that point out the misogyny, elitism, and general hypocrisy of their private school.

Let’s get my quibbles out of the way first:
I almost didn’t read this because the summary on the flap mentioned Harriet had a girlfriend going in. This is one of my, not absolute dealbreakers, but I guess you could say squicks. It creates cheap drama and makes me less sympathetic towards the characters and also just is distracting to me. In this case, the gf was perfectly terrible and fun to hate, but still, the relationship went on MUCH too long. It didn’t really track emotionally, and I think was really just done to set up 2 plot points. And it cheapened the big romantic moment to know that Harriet (somehow) (STILL) had a girlfriend, and I was grumpy to be distracted by that niggling fact, because I DID really ship the main f/f romance.

The other thing is, I know Harriet is supposed to be naive and thinking the best of everyone, but her supposed best friend called this other girl in school a racist name (not a slur but like a purposeful butchering/mocking of her name), and Harriet was basically like, oh I never noticed that was bad. Which is weird, because in other moments she’s super aware, like when she notes that immigrant women often are most in need of domestic violence aid. That said, peer pressure is real, and standing up to friends is hard, and she eventually DOES say something, so I accept it, even if I don’t love it.

Ok, now, the (overwhelming good):
This book was SO clever. I loved the writing style, and the pacing and plotting was great — it’s so hard to depict a series of pranks in a way that keeps the readers’ attention the whole time, and this totally did. The characterization was great, with both POV characters being just the right amount insufferable and lovable. I was laughing and rooting for them super hard.
Also, the end was more bittersweet than I expected, but I actually really liked that, because it felt realistic and showed actual consequences for some of the stuff that had happened. And it still had really satisfying beats in terms of the fallout of some of the pranks and also the romance.

Overall, I definitely recommend!

jesper_fahey's review against another edition

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3.0

Pretty fun and cute

noagalapo's review against another edition

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4.5

What an absolutely adorable read! Australian YA LGBT+ novels are always such a treat to read, and Erin Gough did a such a gorgeous job with Amelia Westlake, and it's just so enjoyable. I loved the uniquely Australian feel to the novel, and as a Sydney-sider myself, just got so excited when the characters in the story mentioned places I recognised (it's probably my favourite aspect of any YA Australian read, hence why I love titles such as 'Looking for Alibrandi', and 'How it Feels' so much). 

I didn't realise I had actually read another one of Gough's novels until a bit through Amelia Westlake, when I did my research and found that she had written 'Flywheel', which I had read I think a year or so ago. This really surprised me, as I didn't really love 'Flywheel' too much, and didn't feel much of a connection to the characters or the budding romance, which was a stark contrast to 'Amelia Westlake', which is just such a heart-felt, adorable read. 

I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA romance, and especially for those looking for familiar Australian stories that just feel so unique to the high school/senior year experience here.

heidi21's review

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adventurous informative inspiring lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

flutterby16's review against another edition

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funny hopeful lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

tesch18's review against another edition

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dnf @ p27

Wasn't really feeling the voice or the plot. Not bad, just not what I was looking for.

marianatororivera's review

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lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? N/A

2.0

conspicuouscarrot's review against another edition

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5.0

finally a five star fucking book!

ellafantile's review against another edition

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5.0

Reading this was such a surreal experience - my friends and I also created a fake student during Year 12 at our girls only private school, although she didn't get up to nearly as much mischief as Amelia Westlake. I loved all the little details of girl school life, and found myself picturing the characters walking down my own school halls. This is the kind of book I wish had been around when I was in school - we probably would have taken some inspiration from Amelia's pranks!

bookedames's review against another edition

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3.0

wow. lesbians.