Thursday, January 9, 2014

REVIEW: RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA by Kimberly McCreight




Title: Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 1, 2013
Genres: New Adult, Crime Thriller
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

Stressed single mother and law partner Kate is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call to say that her teenaged daughter Amelia has been suspended from her exclusive Brooklyn prep school for cheating on an exam. Torn between her head and her heart, she eventually arrives at St Grace's over an hour late, to be greeted by sirens wailing and ambulance lights blazing. Her daughter has jumped off the roof of the school, apparently in shame of being caught.
A grieving Kate can't accept that her daughter would kill herself: it was just the two of them and Amelia would never leave her alone like this. And so begins an investigation which takes her deep into Amelia's private world, into her journals, her email account and into the mind of a troubled young girl.
Then Kate receives an anonymous text saying simply: AMELIA DIDN'T JUMP. Is someone playing with her or has she been right all along?




REVIEW

Well, color me impressed and tip me over with a feather, but I absolutely loved loved loved this book! It’s not my usual read exactly, but then again, what is? My book tastes are as wide as my taste in music. But I digress. Anyway, initially I was planning on rating this novel four stars, but after crying myself through the phenomenal ending that completely caught me off guard, this book no doubt deserves a solid five-star rating. I genuinely thought I had the ending figured out, but I was oh so wrong.

The one thing about Reconstructing Amelia that makes it a vastly different book from any other, is that you know beforehand what’s going to happen at the end, and no matter how differently you wish it would turn out for Amelia, you know it won’t and there’s absolutely zero you can do about it. The inevitable conclusion ensures that the suspense keeps on building until you think you can’t take anymore. So, right from the start you know how the story is going to end, but you don’t exactly know the why and the exact specifics as to the how, and thus from page one the reader takes this journey with Amelia and her mother, Kate, to figure out what exactly went down in the last moments of Amelia’s existence.

Right, so mostly this is a question of whodunnit, but to get to that answer we have to get to know Amelia first. That is done not only from her mother’s point of view while she works her way through Amelia’s emails, text messages, and what not, but also by seeing the world through Amelia’s own eyes. The chapters from Amelia’s point of view were the ones I liked best because straight-A student Amelia tells us about her friendship with her odd bff Sylvia, her life at school, her first love, and most importantly, how and why she got involved with the most vicious group of girls at school. The discoveries her mother and Detective Lew makes about Amelia’s life doesn’t offer any new insight the reader hasn’t already gained from Amelia herself, but to see it from her mother’s perspective gives the story an entirely different depth and dimension. I honestly didn’t connect with Amelia’s mother, no matter how hard I tried, but I had so much sympathy with her for losing her only child and I wanted her to discover the truth. Amelia on the other hand I loved. She’s so real and the more I got to know her, the more I hoped the ending of the book would change even though I knew it wouldn’t. That is the beauty of this story and I believe the secret of its success. It’s that it creates this situation which you know what the outcome is going to be, but you’re powerless to change it. I’ve never read anything like this before. It just goes to show what money, manipulation and influence can do…and it’s outright frightening. What the Maggies – this secret club of girls – did to Amelia is shocking! What’s even more frightening is that these kids aren’t the only culprits. The entire plot is built on a complex web of lies, secrets, blackmailing and exploitation.

Have you ever watched the movies Cruel Intentions and The Craft? It’s that times a hundred. It’s Mean Girls meets the teen version of the tv series, Revenge.  This is a powerful story with an intricately constructed plot that will keep you guessing, and then leave you shocked at the revelation when everything comes together at its finale. The relationship between Amelia and her workaholic mother is fresh and original, which just made everything so much more heartbreaking in the end. Did Amelia commit suicide (because she certainly had enough reason to) or was she pushed from the school’s roof? All I can say is that you’ll be surprised at the answer. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the aforementioned movies and tv series, and to older readers in the YA spectrum upwards. Any parent who fears losing their child should read this. If you enjoyed the complexities of Gillian Flynn’s novel, Gone Girl, then you definitely also want to read this book. I’m happy I read Reconstructing Amelia and I’m looking forward to more books by this author!



READ more REVIEWS

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight has over 3100 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.


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ABOUT the AUTHOR


Kimberly McCreight attended Vassar College and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After working as a litigation associate at some of New York City’s biggest law firms, she left the practice of law to write full-time. Her work has appeared in such publications as Antietam Review, Oxford Magazine, and Babble. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and two daughters.



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