Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Release Date – April 2, 2013
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Pages - 384 pages
My Rating- 3.5/5
**obtained for review from publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A stunning debut novel in which a single mother reconstructs her teenaged daughter's life, sifting through her emails, texts, and social media to piece together the shocking truth about the last days of her life.
Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter's exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.
Kate can't believe that Amelia, an ambitious, levelheaded girl who's never been in trouble would do something like that. But by the time she arrives at Grace Hall, Kate's faced with far more devastating news. Amelia is dead.
Seemingly unable to cope with what she'd done, a despondent Amelia has jumped from the school's roof in an act of "spontaneous" suicide. At least that's the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. And overwhelmed as she is by her own guilt and shattered by grief, it is the story that Kate believes until she gets the anonymous text:
She didn't jump.
Sifting through Amelia's emails, text messages, social media postings, and cell phone logs, Kate is determined to learn the heartbreaking truth about why Amelia was on Grace Hall's roof that day-and why she died.
Told in alternating voices, Reconstructing Amelia is a story of secrets and lies, of love and betrayal, of trusted friends and vicious bullies. It's about how well a parent ever really knows a child and how far one mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she could not save
Getting the devastating call that something has happened to your child has got to be every parent’s worst nightmare. Even worse would be finding out, when it’s too late, that maybe you maybe didn’t know your child has well as you thought.
Kate’s world is rocked when she learns her daughter has been accused of cheating, only to have it destroyed when she arrives to the news that her daughter committed suicide. Guilt plagues Kate for most of the novel. She feels she wasn’t around enough, and begins to feel like she might be responsible for what happened. Her drive to find out what happened to her daughter felt achingly real. I can see any parent being haunted by the why in a situation like this.
Amelia's high school experience starts out as a pretty typical one. She’s not overly popular, but has a group of people she talks to and a best friend whom she spends most of her time with. She’s smart, and studious. She shies away from getting involved with most things outside of school however. Her high school experience takes a drastic turn when she begins a ‘friendship’ with some girls that she never expected to be involved with. High school can be cruel, and Amelia learns this first hand.
I liked Amelia’s voice. It rang true to her character. A little unsure of herself, but ultimately stronger than she knew. She holds up much better than many would under increasingly devastating circumstances. As her world gets increasingly hurtful and stressing I wanted her to reach out. Sadly, like a lot of teenagers she lacks the confidence to find her voice.
Her relationship with her mother was well developed. The push/pull of wanting freedom and missing her mother was so realistic to someone in Amelia’s situation. The guilt Kate carries from not being around more is a catalyst for many of that character’s decisions that it became a predominant part of her character.
There are plenty of twists and turns in the story. The way it unravels reminds me of a puzzle. You’re given these pieces, and they all fit to form a picture, but you don’t a basis to put them together. As each piece is revealed it the image gets less murky until what it is becomes obvious. I liked pacing, and how it was presented. The little things you didn’t think mattered until all of a sudden they did, the huge ones that felt inconsequential when the truth is revealed. I think some may guess the ending prior to the unveiling, but it’s the journey to that ending is that so unexpected.
There are many layers to Amelia’s story. Sifting through all of the reasons she could have ended up on that roof the day she died, to the eventual truth, is as twisty as the novel itself. Was it suicide? An accident? Or perhaps something more sinister? There are things that point to each of these potential scenarios. Being presented with so many plausible scenarios, and reasons behind Amelia’s death, made the story feel like it had the potential to be unpredictable.
This brings us to the ending itself. I was not overly satisfied with the ending. It wrapped things up, and was certainly not what I was expecting. However, after the amazing build up it felt like the ending fizzled out. It’s a plausible and, for me, surprising ending but one that other may enjoy more than I did.
A twisty read that many will devour and love. I enjoyed it’s tense pacing, and great characters, but sadly felt unsatisfied with it’s ending. An otherwise enjoyable read that I think will heat up beaches this summer.