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I was Amelia Earhart
Jane Mendelsohn
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I was Amelia Earhart

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  1,418 ratings  ·  187 reviews
In an evocative and imaginative novel, Amelia Earhart tells us what happened after she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared off the coast of New Guinea one windy day in 1937.
Published 2007 (first published 1996)
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Jane Mendelsohn uses shifts in POV to create alternative realities for the title character in I Was Amelia Earhart . Ostensibly, I Was Amelia Earhart is about what happens to Amelia after her fateful plane crash, but implicit in the story is the question of whether the internal or the external world is more real.
Through her choice of words and syntax, description, rhythm and beat, Mendelsohn creates shifts in perspective. The more subtle shift in perspective is juxtaposed on top of a more obvio
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
The Book Report: The speculation about what really happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in 1937 has always been pretty durned feverish. This récit, can't really call it a novel because nothing happens and it's all a narrative inside the character's head, purports to be the internal monologue and reported dialogue with Noonan of Earhart herself as she takes off on her fateful round-the-world trip, gets lost, and then...well, it's the "and then" that's this story. It's a lovely thing, like m ...more
What I learned from this book is that floral adjectives, poignant use of white space, and a voice that maintains the same sentimental register throughout do not make for a compelling read. While the beginning was promising (I crave stories about daredevils, aviatrices, and the Depression era), it quickly devolved into a tedious, romanticized account of Earhart's fictional life on a desert island. At first I was wary about the voice, which seemed drunk on its own elegiac and pseudo-profound metap ...more
I Was Amelia Earhart is a slim little novella, but the writing style is so dreamlike and interesting that it really made me slow down and savor each word. Mendelsohn's writing is beautiful and spare, with no words wasted.

Written from Amelia's perspective, this book tells the story of Earhart's final flight and what transpires after her crash landing on a remote island. It's pretty fascinating to see what this author imagines was inside Earhart's head and what she experienced after her disappeara
One of my favorite books. Really gorgeous prose. The What and the Why are definitely secondary to the How in this one. I can see why some people might think there is something lacking in plot or character development, but I think there's just enough for the lack not to matter in the context of how glorious it is just to dwell in Mendelsohn's moments.
Compelling, poetic book. There's an intentionally ethereal, vague quality to narrative as it starts, but as the story unfolds, the early pieces come into focus. I didn't know what to make of it at first, but was very much drawn in as the character deepened and emerged. Lovely.
Just arrived from Japan through BM.

What if Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan would survive in some lost island in the middle of nowhere?

Perhaps it's an excess of imagination of the author but this was not able to convince any reader about this very improbable story.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 11, 2008 Amber rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want a quick read and want to read nicely written words
I love the language of this book. It is hard to follow the plot and story but the language is amazing and sucks you in. Very well written.

Imagine a collection of silent movie footage, taken from different viewpoints, and edited together to make a slightly disjointed movie. This was the feel I got from this novel.This story never really feels as if it is being offered as a viable explanation for what might have happened to Amelia Earhart when she disappeared while en route from Lae, New Guinea to Howell Island, during her failed attempt to be the first woman to fly around the world. Rather it provides a series of other-worldly medi

Chad Bearden
There is something a little bit 'college lit mag' about Jane Mendelsohn's "I Was Amelia Earhart", but minus the few little quirks that reveal her inexperience as a novelist, the book actually holds up rather well.

Mendelsohn definitely has a poet's sensibility and the fluid and ethereal manner in which she guides the reader through Earhart's life is engaging and beautiful. As short as the novel is, the author uses only half of her page count to paint a portrait of Earhart's actual biography, deft
Margaret Langstaff
In an almost uncanny intuitive way this writer grabs the whole Amelia Earhart lalapalooza --mystery, glamor, publicity whirlwind -- and turns it upside down, rendering a surprisingly convincing intimate voice, fictional surely, but quite an accomplishment nevertheless, of a lonely misunderstood woman who made her living by creating then being a legend. I am over familiar with the facts of Earhart's life, have been close friends with members of her family descendants for 30 yrs.,know the inside s ...more
I got this book as a Christmas present for my Aunt Dolores in about 1994. She was my godmother and we both loved to read. As is tradition in my family, when she died, I received as an inheritance all the gifts I'd given her, including this book and a few pictures of myself that I had framed for her. How vain of me! But I think she liked them, so whatever. This book is beautiful. I never read it at the time, but I thought of my aunt when I saw it and thought she would like it. I don't think we ev ...more
The first third of this novel had me rolling my eyes. The main story picks up during the preparations for Amelia Earhart's final trip and it is mostly told from her point of view. And it is a depressed point of view. From what I've read about Amelia Earhart, she was tough, not moody. I was kind of miffed that the author would attempt to make her into some kind of angsty, suicidal Virginia Woolf-like character.

Once the plane took off though, I could barely put the book down since from that point
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Sarah B.
I enjoyed reading this short, experimental novel. I liked that the author departed from the facts about Earhart's life gradually, first by creating an emotional inner life for Earhart before her final flight and then by going on to fantasize a entire post-crash life for the characters. I even liked the way the POV switches between 1st and 3rd person at will, and the way the book moves away from a narrative altogether by the end.

That being said, I struggled to connect to this book. At times, the
When Mendelsohn’s book was published, the idea that Earhart and Noonan may have landed on the reef flat of some unknown Pacific island and survived was pretty far fetched. CW at that time was the Electra ran out of fuel and crashed in the ocean. The whacko theories involved her crash landing on Mili or Jaluit in the Marshalls; she and her plane were then carried by ship to Saipan where she was executed. Locals in the Marshalls would swear to this, and locals in Saipan would willingly point out t ...more
Written from a shifting point of view, this book tells the story of what might have happened to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, her navigator on their last flight together. I was irritated by the writing style at first, but the author seemed to settle down about half-way through and it was easier reading after that. I finished it about a couple of days ago and it has taken on a dream-like quality in my mind, not a concrete story, but a dreamlike imagining of what could happen if two virtual stra ...more
I read this book when it originally came out (forever ago) but came across it again at a used-book sale. I relished it just as much the second time around. Mendelsohn's use of language is superb... making even the mundane sound beautiful. And the story of what became of Amelia Earhart after her plane disappeared is wonderful. A definite must-read.
There's no way to summarize this perfect novella without it sounding like A Very Dumb Idea For A Book. (It's totally Eli Cash in The Royal Tenenbaums: "Everyone knows that Custer died at Little Big Horn. What this novel presupposes is: maybe he didn't?") Anyway, it's really good. Really really good.
Sarah Sammis
I was Amelia Earhart is an interesting premise for a story but it's poorly executed. I ended up skipping around a lot and it really didn't seem to matter that I did.
I enjoyed this little fantasy about the fate of Amelia Earhart and her co-pilot. I have no idea what percentage of the tale was based upon other reports about her temperament, drive, and thoughts -- but Mendelsohn did a good job of making something believable and making Earhart real. This is a creative effort that is short and sweet. I'm glad that she didn't try to make it longer or more complex. At first I wasn't sure of the change of voice that she used as a technique, but I got used to it.

I d
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Suzanne Stroh
Do you adore unsolved mysteries, beautiful heroines, hidden gems and slim volumes? Do you wait for the next book that will drench you in the sensual pleasure of reading? Then don't miss this gorgeous, heartbreaking novel that imagines lost pilot Amelia Earhart telling the story of her South Seas airplane wreck on the round-the-world flight she never returned from.

A tale of raw, female courage and grit. A story about finding love where you least expect it. And a deep dive into existentialism wor
This book was not at all what I expected, though I can't even really define what it was I expected it to be. It's a slim volume that picks up on the story on Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan essentially after their plane disappeared. It's told through rather dreamlike poetic sequences, two voices, both focused on Amelia. It took me a while to get into the ethereal rhythm (which is not such a great thing when the book is only 145 pages), but eventually I did. Interesting theory, but ...more
Connie  Kuntz
I read this to the kids in tandem with "Amelia Bedelia Means Business." This reading exercise was about
(1) comparing Amelia Earhart to Amelia Bedelia,

(2) comparing a fictitious character to a legendary true person,

(3) comparing people/characters who share the same name, and

(4) analyzing character values and seeing if any of the values match those that lurk inside my children.

The kids and I love how literal Amelia Bedelia is, and we think it's cool that she is such a good baker, but three of
Her Royal Orangeness
When I was in the fifth grade, we did a unit on heroes and heroines in American history and we had to select someone to do a presentation on. The teacher gave us a list of names and I looked up several of them in the encyclopaedia. (Yes, encyclopaedia. Remember those? My parents had two sets that filled the bookshelves lining the hallway. They were such an important part of my childhood.)

One of the names I looked up was Amelia Earhart, the pioneering aviatrix who mysteriously vanished while att
Il nome di Amelia Earhart non mi era per niente nuovo, anzi. Fu proprio cercando quel nome che usai per la prima volta internet ormai una quindicina di anni fa. Avevo letto un libro dove la vicenda della Earhart veniva considerata uno dei grandi enigmi della storia americana, insieme all’area 51 e a poche altre cose. Questo libro perciò mi incuriosiva molto perché, conoscendo la vera storia di Amelia Earhart con tutti i dubbi rimasti insoluti, volevo vedere come un libro con un tal titolo poteva ...more
The story wasn't at all what I expected it would be, but the writing was absolutely as breathtaking as I imagine the views were for someone who loved to fly, seeing the world from so high above. The cover describes it as "lyrical" and that is most certainly true. Only an author with talent like that can make the technicalities of flight seem like such a beautiful thing or make the dangers just as breathtaking as the scenery. So many reviews quote lines from inside to point out the beauty of this ...more
It’s not often that I stick with a book I’ve started once I find out I really don’t like it. But even though that was the case I kept reading this one because it was so short (a scant 145 pages each of which contained a fair amount of white space) and I was interested in finding out more about Amelia Earhart. I would have been much better off looking for a decent biography because this book was more fiction than fact. Granted, there has always been a great deal of speculation about what happened ...more
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Jane Mendelsohn was born and raised in New York City. She is a graduate of Yale.

She is the author of three novels: the best-selling I Was Amelia Earhart, shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and Innocence, and American Music. Published to wide acclaim by Knopf in 2010, American Music is now out in paperback from Vintage.

More about Jane Mendelsohn...
Innocence American Music

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