I think it's a safe bet that if you have two X-chromosomes, and ever went to a public high school or middle school, you've found yourself in one of those poisonous relationships with the unilateral flowchart of power.
Our hapless protagonist is named Delia, but nobody ever gets her name right. Why? Because she doesn't matter. No, seriously; she doesn't. She's overweight--strike one, she's a new girl--strike two, and her personality isn't all that great--strike three. Desperation comes off of this girl in waves.
So she's as surprised as anyone when she is befriended by the eponymous Amandine, who is everything Delia wants to be: pert, pretty, popular...the kind of girl who was born to be in the spotlight. The kind of girl Delia's parents wish she was like.
...Except Amandine has a dark streak. She doesn't like it when the dynamic is skewed away from being in her favor. She doesn't like it when other people command the center of attention. She draws disturbing things in her sketchbook, and tells even more disturbing lies. In other words, she's not the type of girl you want pissed off at you.
And guess what Delia does? Mm-hmm.
This is the second Adele Griffin book I've read, and I have to say I'm surprised by how low her average ratings are. She is not a terrible writer by any means. The problem, I suspect, is that her characters are just so unlikable, which makes it hard to get through the book. Not because they're Mary Sues, but because they are anti-Sues, whose flaws resonate with the reader in such a way as to make one aware of one's own shortcomings and deep dark secrets.
One of my friends on Goodreads who reviewed this book (I think it was Bekka) essentially said that the writing in Amandine only really scratched at the surface of the complex psychology of Amandine and Delia, and how their combine flaws created such a maladaptive relationship. I think the story was only about 75 pages long on my e-Reader, and for its length (or lack thereof), I feel like Griffin accomplished a lot, but on the same note, I do think she could have done more for both herself and the story by fleshing out the characterizations a little bit more.
I was curious about Amandine's personal history. Like, her mother lived with a boyfriend young enough to be her son. What happened to the father? Did he abuse Amandine sexually? Is that why Amandine behaved towards Delia's father the way she did? Behavior like hers is sometimes (but not always) linked to some kind of childhood trauma or abuse.
Personally, it seemed to me that she (Amandine) a textbook example of someone with narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder. The desperate need to be in the center of attention all the time, the self-hate, the lack of compassion and empathy for others, the taking on of various roles, and the complete dissociation between action and consequence really resonated with what I've learned from my psychology courses on personality disorders.
What made this story especially interesting was that Delia had her own little grab bag of issues, too. I won't spoil the main one. I will say that her mother and father are those people that can't let go of their high school personas. Her mother still talks about how she's the "good girl who married the bad boy," and her father is constantly turning on the charm and stealing the spotlight from his daughter. Both of them are very hard on her for being overweight, unattractive, shy, and a loner, telling her that she's simply not trying hard enough--or even doing this on purpose to spite them.
All these things in combination made Amandine a very interesting and compelling read for me. I can see why young adults might not like this YA novel, because there's no romance and it focuses almost entirely on the instability of triad-relationships. On the other hand, for adults and precocious older teenagers who like exploring the depths of the dysfunctional teenage psyche, this would be a choice read. I know I've been in relationships like this, and yeah, it's pretty rough.
2.5 to 3 out of 5 stars.