Julie H.'s Reviews > Journal: The Short Life and Mysterious Death of Amy Zoe Mason

Journal by Joyce Atkinson
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's review
May 25, 12

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction
Read in May, 2012

Journal: The Short Life and Mysterious Death of Amy Zoe Mason is a clever concept executed by sisters Kristine and Joyce Atkinson. The conceit is that the authors (er, I mean the women who "found" the journal) purchased a piece of furniture at a resale shop and, when preparing to refinish it, discovered this journal hidden under one of its drawers.

The "Journal" itself (wink, wink) is part art project/part psychiatric homework/part confessional executed by a young married mother of two who is in the process of packing up her recently-deceased mother's possessions and preparing to sell the house so that she and her two children can join her cardiologist husband who has just assumed a prestigious position in Boston. Through snippets of family photos, e-mails, postcards, and Amy's own caligraphied and later sloppily handwritten notes to herself, readers witness the dissolution of Amy's perfect world.

At first blush, the story called to mind such projects as Bantok's Griffin & Sabine series, Leanne Shapton's oh-so-clever spoof catalog titled Important Artifacts and Personal Property of the Collection of Lenore Dooland & Harold Morris through which one pieces together the beginning, middle and financial termination of that relationship, or even Stephanie Meyer's journalesque The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Heck, I even kinda enjoyed Lynch & Peters' Secret Life of Laura Palmer back in the day--so this form of story is an easy sell for me. That said, it's hard not to compare this work with the first two of those just-named projects--in which case this one falls a bit short as the artwork of this "altered book" doesn't enjoy the inseparable fit between story and artwork that those other works achieve. This, coupled with the fact that it's pretty clear what led to and who is responsible for Amy's untimely demise--oh, and the fact that you never really care about any of the characters in the book--are what make it fall short of those other efforts.

It's a really clever concept and I think that if Amy's death had been a little less obvious, the authors might have succeeded in getting us to wonder "what if...?" every time we read the Society pages or descriptions of some big philanthropy "do" planned, hosted and attended by the Beautiful People. Instead, because it wasn't, the reader is never unsettled beyond the pages of this book--which I had sincerely wished it had been able to accomplish. But don't take my word for it. This really is a clever idea and a super fast read (seriously, two hours will do you), so check it out yourself.
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Loraine Tabayoyong Well said review! Here's mine if you don't mind: http://lorxiebookreviews.blogspot.com...

Thanks and good day! =)


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