by Kimberly McCreight
Pub. Date: April 2, 2013
Book received from: Publisher
Genre: Mystery/Contemporary Fiction
Cover: It’s darkly simple and pretty reflective of the story
Characters: Somewhat interesting, but not very likable
Tagline: How much would you tell your mother? Do you really know what’s going on inside your daughter’s head? (-UK edition)
For Fans Of: Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Worth the read? Sure. If you are looking for a quiet and subtle mystery.
From the Cover: 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.
The Short & Sweet of It: This was an interestingly told mystery, as well as a story about mother-daughter relationships. Told in alternating viewpoints of mother and daughter and jumping back and forth through timelines, as well as interspersed with texts, blog posts, and e-mails, it all sounds as though it might be a bit much to follow. However, McCreight has crafted it with ease. The mystery is the most intriguing aspect to the book, as a mother must discover what her daughter was really going through in her last few days- and knowing that she may not like what she finds. Although, nothing could be worse than believing her daughter jumped on her own volition.
The other aspect of this book is telling the mother’s story and uncovering the truth about the man who fathered her daughter. This part of the story is equally as interesting, but is told at a slower pace that lost my interest at times. However, the payoff is worth getting through the slower parts.
The writing style is not the most memorable, but I believe that McCreight is an author to watch as she hones her skills in future endeavors. The nods to Virginia Woolf added an interesting layer to the story while also adding depth to the teenager at the center of it all. I would recommend this read if you are looking for a mystery that unfolds while delving into the lives of those involved. It explores a mother-daughter relationship, as well as issues of peer pressure and bullying in a delicate yet honest manner.
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