1952. More than anything Hannah Heywood wants to attend a “normal” school. She grabs the opportunity of her family's move to Spyder Hill, Texas, to take control of her life. She enrolls herself in the local junior high school, gets on the swim team, and begins to teach herself the basic arithmetic she failed to learn back in Virginia at a “special” school.
Hannah's struggles involve more than basic skills; she battles shadowy memories and dreams of past abuse and her fear that some unnamed terror will overwhelm her. She's obsessed with people who have disappeared without explanation, such as Amelia Earhart, for one; Hannah's father Holly Heywood missing from action in World War II; and now Betty Jean Nealson, a girl her own age who disappeared only months before Hannah's arrival in Texas. Through her imaginary conversations with the woman pilot Amelia Earhart, often in her secret tree house, she discovers common sense and slowly develops the ability to trust.
Hannah's quest to recover her true self takes place within a family that is bubbling with unresolved conflict. Mrs. Lee Heywood, “Mama,” is fighting her way out of a lengthy and unproductive grief over her spouse's presumed death in the Second World War. Uncle Andrew, the family rebel from childhood and former Air Force pilot, is now entering his first pastorate as a Presbyterian minister, feels compelled to preach peace and begins alienating powerful members of his congregation almost at once. Hannah's older sister Cynthia, unexpectedly uprooted from her senior year of high school, uses all of her southern charm to recreate the popularity she had “back home.”
Then Andrew's former lover who stayed behind in Occupied Japan commits suicide. Andrew's zeal for pacifism intensifies, and just to complicate things, he takes up with the saucy church organist who has yet to prove herself to the same people who oppose him. Lee decides to demonstrate against the construction of a local Nike missile base, while Cynthia becomes “Most Beautiful” and gets pregnant.
All the while Hannah is pursuing the mystery of the lost B. J. Nealson. Everyone believes the alleged Nazi Gunther Van Heusen is the culprit, but conclusive evidence has not been found. Hannah swims through the swirl of events and emotions, oblivious that B. J.'s real killer is watching her closely as she moves nearer and nearer the truth about the girl's disappearance.
The tree house down by the creek provides a place for Hannah to escape -- and work on her maths -- or chat with Amelia.
LINKS: Conversations with Amelia
Book description, reviews and author biography - https://www.amazon.com/Conversations-Amelia-Kathleen-Schmitt-ebook/dp/B00A8MTIQM