I had an idea of what I wanted Amelia Westlake Was Never Here to be in my mind, and the story totally ended up satisfying that!
It’s such a fun concept: two girls who are polar opposites teaming up to create a hoax to expose the flaws in their private girls school!
And although there were things I think could have been further expanded, I ended up really enjoying the novel and having a lot of fun reading about Harriet and Will. Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a little silly, a lot fun, and overall a really great read.
Harriet & Will! Such a fun dynamic.
I mean, not only do we have two iconic lesbians (and also more queer side characters!) but also Harriet and Will are just such awesome characters independently.
Will is a bit of a rebel, caring about social justice & fed up with the private school they attend while Harriet is a total rule follower and someone who is a bit enamored with the broken system that their school has.
Both go through a large awakening throughout the novel, Will learning a little bit about her social justice and where she might be going wrong, while Harriet opens her eyes to what’s going on around them.
They seem like total opposites, but they’re actually a really cute couple that I was rooting for from the start and they’re a little silly sometimes, but so much fun and really unique characters to read about!
The hoax was definitely a super fun plot element!
I thought the Amelia Westlake plot was definitely a fun one, and it totally helped speed the narrative along and make the pacing flow smoothly.
The pranks and other activities “Amelia Westlake” does were really interesting and definitely creative and gave the plot another more tangible aspect and a clearer goal. I like how it helped focus the story and brought in a lot of stakes.
I also expected the ending of Amelia Westlake, but still loved it nonetheless. It was satisfying and closed the story well and kept it lighthearted and romantic and funny. I thought the hoax was just a lot of fun and it’s a large part of why Amelia Westlake Was Never Here was so enjoyable.
I felt like the story could have used a teensy bit more depth.
As fun as Amelia Westlake Was Never Here was, I was looking for a tiny bit more from the social justice part of the story.
I think the idea of performative activism could have been explored more, as well as the influence of race in the school’s elitism. However, it is set in Australia which is largely white, so it is something to consider.
I feel like Will’s storyline did touch a lot on the idea of performative activism—such as how Natasha corrected Will about AW—a group that sought to help Australian Women, but wasn’t helping all Australian women. Will learns about performative activism and looking into the organizations you support, but I did think Gough could have brought Will further into this.
But overall, I had a really enjoyable time reading.
It was a really fun romantic comedy with a compelling story, entertaining characters, and a sweet romance! I think anyone who wants something queer and just enjoyable to read will want to pick this up!
Will is fed up with her private school and the way it covers up sexual harassment and perpetuates an idea of elitism within the school. She’s been protesting against it for years, but Will has begun to toe the line with administration, and will need to bring her grades up and change her behavior if she doesn’t want to get expelled.
On the other hand, Harriet is perfectly satisfied with her life and time at the school. Sure, it may have its flaws, but what doesn’t? Harriet is happy to live in her bubble, just looking forward to the tennis competition that she’s hoping to win with her girlfriend Edie.
But when Will and Harriet collide and create a fake student profile, Amelia Westlake, on a whim in order to share the message about the school’s wrongdoings anonymously, their lives and their school will end up chainging.
Content Warning: Sexual Harassment
Thank you so much to The NOVL for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!