Mezzowriter's ReadWriter Blog

Reading, Writing, and The Search for Buried Gems of Literature

What I’m Reading #38: Journal July 11, 2010

This was loaned to my by my sister a while back and I forgot about it.  I picked it up a couple of nights ago when I couldn’t sleep and ended up reading the whole thing…


Journal:  The Short Life and Mysterious Death of Amy Zoe Mason by Kristine Atkinson and Joyce Atkinson

Simon and Schuster, 2006


This cover fits the book, but the real treasure is inside...


Internal "scrapbook" style pages...


Multilayered storytelling: Amy's additions are placed over the original book's content, which often has eerie connections to the journal's contents.

Courtesy of

From Publishers Weekly

This tantalizing “found” journal of a troubled young wife and mother combines the diary of Amy Mason, correspondence, clippings from newspaper accounts and remnants of the 19th-century novel Amy used instead of a blank notebook to frame the story of her disintegrating marriage. Amy’s husband, Robert, moves to Boston to head a new cardiology institute, but Amy and her two small children remain behind in Houston, planning to follow later. As the relocation process drags on, Robert throws himself into his new responsibilities and Amy fights a deepening depression. She finds a new friend in her Houston real estate agent, Vanessa Garamond, but the beautiful Vanessa provokes Amy’s suspicions with an unannounced trip to Boston. Sisters Kristine and Joyce Atkinson only hint at the occurrence of a crime, and readers will have to draw their own conclusions from the open-ended assemblage of visual and textual clues. Traditional mystery readers may want a more definitive story, but amateur scrapbookers will find inspiration in this collage.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


This isn’t a YA title, but I’d say that teen readers might find it interesting anyway for its unusual format.

Strengths: This has a really unique format.  The premise of the story involves Amy’s decision to use an old book as her journal (called “altered books”) and she adds emails, recipes, journal entries, scrapbook clippings, etc. to it.   I was really interested as the story unfolded, since the original content of the book shows through her entries, sometimes in a really coincidental and spooky way.  You know there are details to find, and you need to read carefully and pay attention to EVERYTHING.  It’s a treasure hunt.

Potential Flaws: Nothing structural.  I will only say that these types of books just aren’t for everyone.  It’s not a really deep, convoluted mystery, but those who want to read this type of book probably aren’t looking for that, anyway.

My Rating:

A unique, clever diversion.  Not a literary masterpiece, but a fun fast scavenger hunt for clues.