Author Kimberly McCreight
Publication Date April 2, 2013
Genre: General Fiction
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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.
Reconstructing Amelia immediately grabbed my attention but the theme of bullying even more.
Amelia, against better judgement is invited to join the Magpies, a high school sorority. Amelia desperately wants to be accepted with the lead “Maggies” threatening her if she lets them down.
I found this interesting, with bullying leading to suicide becoming a recent epidemic, it did make me wonder if the text was a ruse; but as I got deeper into the novel I realize that wasn’t the case.
Reconstructing Amelia, is told by two voices, Amelia herself and her mother Kate. By flip-flipping in this manner the reader got a panorama of events. Through Amelia, a look at her slow descent into madness and feeling of hopelessness, making it just plausible enough the she could have done it but those girls were so mean that they must have done it. Through Kate, we see a naive mother who thought she knew her BFF daughter, but at every corner realizing how little she did.
The last fifty pages had me riveted. Each door Kate opened had me believing that they killed Amelia (because by this time I’d thrown the suicide idea off the roof) When the truth was revealed, as shocked as I was, I realized I’d thought it all along, just as Kate thought her daughter didn’t, couldn’t kill herself.
Reconstructing Amelia is like a campfire story, which must be told slowly for maximum effect with the lights turned low. This is how I felt while reading this story, I wanted to read slowly and digest each word like a s’mores but it was just too good, and I devoured it.