Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it About?
Kate Baron is a single mother trying to do her best to balance motherhood and her burgeoning legal career. She puts in many hours at the law firm where she works, so she's not always around for her only daughter, Amelia, but she truly cares and does what she can to make time. One day Kate receives a call that her daughter has been suspended for cheating, which is not at all like her. Amelia is a smart girl that never gets in trouble. Kate makes her way to her daughter's exclusive private school only to discover a chilling scene. Amelia has jumped from the roof. And she's dead. Kate is consumed with grief and guilt, but she has no choice but to move on. But no matter how much she tries, she can't shake the feeling that something just isn't right. Her feeling is compounded when she receives and anonymous text proclaiming that Amelia didn't jump. The police have determined it was suicide and they seem to be satisfied with that, but Kate is not. The case is far from closed for her.
As Kate sifts through her daughter's emails, texts, papers and belongings, a shocking tale of love, bullying and dark secrets begins to unfold before her eyes. Kate begins to realize that she didn't know Amelia as well as she thought she did, and that the things and the people she became involved with could have lead to her death. As she gets closer to the truth, she begins to wonder if there was anything she could have done to prevent what happened. To clear her own conscience and to get justice for her beloved daughter, Kate must know how and why Amelia died. There's more to this story than meets the eye.
Reconstructing Amelia is a powerful, tightly-woven, multilayered mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. I absolutely loved this book. It's not one that I would normally have picked up, but I'm so glad I did. I was reading it for the book club I'm in. I was pretty excited to read it going in, and it did not disappoint. This is an excellent choice for a book club because it contains so much for discussion. It touches on difficult subjects like bullying and friendship and explores the trials of adolescence and dealing with peer pressure and acceptance. At the same time, it's about a woman trying to do it all on her own while keeping her own secrets. This is a perfect non-YA book for people who normally read YA. It is definitely considered adult fiction, but it could easily appeal to an older YA audience. Some content is for more mature readers, but it's Amelia's part of the story that contains that stuff, so it really isn't much different from many YA books out there.
Another thing that really worked for me was that the book is told in a dual POV. Kate's POV is set in the present, investigating the death of her daughter, and Amelia's POV takes place right before her own death. Both tell their own stories and by the end of the book, they seamlessly wind together in a shocking, and tear inducing, conclusion. Yes, I was sobbing by the time I got to the last few pages. I'm a single mother, so I felt her grief. I'd never want to be in her place, but if I was, I can totally understand why she went to the lengths she did to uncover the truth about what happened. I'm also a YA reader and I felt that what happened to Amelia was a perfect cautionary tale about the consequences of following the crowd just to fit in. It also shows that, in Amelia's case, even smart people are susceptible to peer pressure, and in Kate's case, even smart women make mistakes.
The bottom line, this is a great mystery that fans of books like Gone Girl or even fans of Jodi Picoult will enjoy. It's also a good choice for fans of YA books like Catherine by April Lindner and it contains poignant themes found in books by authors like A.S. King and Courtney Summers. I wish I had read it sooner, but now I'm thankful that I found a new author to follow.
I can't wait to pick up her second book, Where They Found Her...
...and I'm REALLY looking forward to her upcoming YA book, The Outliers.