Reconstructing Amelia: Review
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Women's Fiction
Fifteen-year-old Amelia is an only child, the perfect student with high grades and never gets into trouble. She is a parent’s dream. When Amelia’s lawyer mother, Kate, gets a phone call from Grace Academy (the posh, private school Amelia attends) telling her she needs to come pick up Amelia because she’d been expelled for cheating, Kate is dumbfounded. Amelia would never cheat. When Kate gets to the school, things have made a turn for the worse. Amelia is dead. According to the police, Amelia jumped from the roof of the school. The case is closed, and Kate is left reeling from the loss of her daughter.
But then Kate gets a text message from a blocked number that reads, She didn’t jump. Kate immediately contacts the police and the case is reopened. Now Kate will learn things about her daughter — things she never would have thought Amelia could be involved in — if she wants to find out what really happened to her.
The book is perfectly paced, and even though I knew Amelia was dead, there is still a lot of hope in the text. The story alternates between Facebook statuses and text messages from Amelia, blog entries from a Gossip Girl type school blog as well as third-person narrative from Kate’s perspective and first-person accounts from Amelia. This is what kind of threw me. Amelia dies within the first few chapters of the book and by the time we hear from her, she has already passed. It seemed a bit weird that we were hearing a first-person account from a dead girl. It worked, and it definitely made me feel closer to Amelia, but it nagged at me a bit.
Also, as I said before, there were times when I felt there was almost too much going on. It all works, and the author handles everything with precision, I just felt like I was at the edge of being overwhelmed a lot. Then again, that is exactly what Kate was feeling, so maybe that was the author’s intent.
All of the characters in this book are very strong and believable. Kate is your typical over-worked single mother, who, though constantly busy at work, deeply cares for her daughter. The loss of Amelia is palpable, and I really felt for her. I was even more captivated by Amelia. She was so effervescent and likable. Even though I knew from the synopsis that she would die, I wanted her to be okay. Her story is very engaging and a little heartbreaking.
The rest of the characters all serve their purpose, and while I felt, at times, that maybe there were too many things going on, it all worked out in the end. There were characters I adored and felt for, and there were some (mainly the evil-wench Zadie) that I truly despised.
In the end, I really liked this book. In fact, I ordered a hardcover copy the minute I finished reading. While this is considered Adult fiction, 75 – 80% of the book is told from Amelia’s perspective, which gives it more of a YA feel. I highly recommend this one to adults and teens alike. Not only is there a good mystery wrapped between the pages, but there is a lot here in terms of bullying (some of it quite vicious), friendship and mother/daughter bonds. Some of the subject matter and language is a little tough, so I would recommend it to more mature teens. This is one to definitely put on your summer reading list.
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.