Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: "Reconstructing Amelia" by Kimberly McCreight

Wow, I thought this was pretty fantastic.

Kate Baron is a successful attorney and single mother of Amelia, a bright, witty, and talented sophomore at a prestigious New York private school. One day Kate is summoned out of a meeting and is asked to come to Amelia's school immediately—she has been caught cheating and faces significant academic penalties. This seems completely out of character for Amelia, but by the time Kate makes it to the school, things have gotten much worse. Amelia jumped from the roof of the school, an act of impulsive suicide motivated by her guilt.

Or at least that's what school officials and the police tell Kate. And while she tries to make sense of all that has happened, and relives recent interactions with Amelia to try and understand what motivated her actions, she is rocked by an anonymous text message:

Amelia didn't jump.

This text message sends Kate into a tailspin, desperate to believe her daughter didn't cheat or commit suicide, but she is afraid of what she'll find out. And the further she digs into Amelia's emails, Facebook and blog posts, text messages, and journal entries, she finds out all that Amelia was going through—and all of the people who might have had a hand in either driving her to suicide or causing her death.

This book is like a combination of Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl crossed with an episode of Law and Order, but for the most part, it doesn't feel overly dramatic or false. The biggest tragedy about this book is that so many of the things that occurred could and probably do happen among teenagers in private and public schools. Kimberly McCreight is an excellent writer who keeps the twists and turns coming full speed ahead, but she knows when to throttle back and not take the plot down too melodramatic a path.

Reconstructing Amelia is a book about friendship, romance, love between parent and child, and forging your own identity. It's also a book about the dangers of keeping secrets and the need to feel you fit in. It hooked me from start to finish, and although I ultimately was sad, I really marveled at the power of McCreight's storytelling ability. Read this.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't want to put this book down. Great read. Kept you guessing. Believable characters.