Study Guide

Amy Cahill in The Maze of Bones (The 39 Clues)

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Amy Cahill

Fourteen Going on Ninety

Older than Dan by three years, Amy's gotta be the responsible one. They're orphans with no positive adult influence, so Amy seems to have decided to adult-ify herself. While she doesn't necessarily take care of Dan (unless you count occasionally nagging him as "taking care of") and raise him as some older siblings do, she does identify with their late mother, who would have been filling that role.

The clue hunt gives her the opportunity to find out more about her mom and connect with her, too. Where Dan is interested in collecting baseball cards and setting things on fire, Amy has more mature hobbies, such as studying history and archeology like her mother and grandmother. This allows her to uncover some clues that Amy's mother placed, almost as though she left the clues especially for Amy.

Amy is comfortable doing research in a library, although computers make her nervous (another trait that makes her the mature one. Amy's fear of computers makes her seem more like she's eighty-four rather than fourteen). Whatever the reasons for Amy's being wise beyond her years, it's clear that Amy is the one who calls the shots. She sends the group to Philadelphia, Paris, and Vienna. In fact, without her, Amy and Dan would never have gone on the clue hunt in the first place. Dan just wanted to spend his million bucks on baseball cards. Amy? She sees the bigger picture.

There's No Need to Fear

Or maybe we've spoken too soon. See, when Amy has time and space to think about things, she's able to see the big picture. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of time to breathe in a race around the world, and Amy has a habit of getting paralyzed under pressure. Amy's biggest challenge in the hunt isn't staying ahead of her scheming cousins or even solving the increasingly difficult puzzles they encounter. Her biggest obstacle is herself.

That's because Amy's chock full of fears and neuroses. It may seem unusual for a fourteen-year-old to be so controlled by fear (aren't teens supposed to be reckless?), but Amy lost her parents at a young age and has been stuck with a guardian like Beatrice, who is overbearing to say the least. Because of these traumas she's faced, her anxiety is understandable.

Still, we had to turn to in order to diagnose Amy fully. She has

  • sociophobia: "Fear of society or people in general." 
  • agoraphobia: "Fear of crowds, open spaces." 
  • gelotophobia: "Fear of being laughed at." 
  • cyberphobia: "Fear of computers."

Not to rag on the poor girl, but we should also mention that she's conflict averse, stutters under pressure, and is very self deprecating, at one point calling herself a "mumbling loser" (14.13). To which we say, false. Buck up, girl. You need to believe in yourself.

You Gotta Believe

By the end of this book, Amy might not have totally conquered her fears, but she's taken a good-sized leap over many of them. She's able to pull it together when it counts, especially in the few life-or-death situations she and Dan find themselves in.

After almost getting buried alive by a cement truck, laughed at by the Holts, and chased by thugs (three of Amy's biggest fears), she manages some lightning-fast critical thinking that would make Benjamin Franklin proud. When she and Dan are cornered in a dead end, "Amy realize[s] her brain wasn't paralyzed by fear anymore. The explosion had snapped her back to her senses" (14.108). She gets the Franklin battery from Dan and turns a nearby fence electric, zapping the thugs who were in pursuit. The whole thing is very kickbutt.

Later Amy, Dan, and Nellie find themselves on some subway tracks about to get run down by a train. Dan might have been squished flat if it weren't for Amy: "With more strength than Amy knew she had, she yanked him out of the pit so hard they tumbled over each other" (16.127). She'll do anything for her brother, the only family she has, and that bond gives her great strength.

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