Book Review | Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly McCreight
About the Book:
In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter—now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.
An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump.
Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save.
Reconstructing Amelia is one of those books that stays with you long after you finish reading. There’s some books that make a lasting impression and this is definitely one. I couldn’t stop thinking about the story and the characters. The author made them feel so real and alive and I couldn’t help but think how their lives could have turned out so differently.
The story goes back and forth between Kate and her daughter, Amelia. Kate is a high powered attorney in NYC who is a single mom and workaholic. She has secrets in her past that she will never confess to anyone…not even herself. Kate’s story begins with her rushing to her daughter’s school after she has been suspended for cheating on a paper. When she arrives, she learns that her daughter, Amelia, has jumped off the roof of the school. The author also gives Amelia’s story starting with months before the incident and with each chapter we learn more and more about what lead up to that point.
I felt Kate’s anguish about her daughter’s suicide. It felt like I was right there with her going through it. It made me think of my own children especially my teen daughter and how Kate never saw this coming at all. She tries to make sense of it and deep down she knows Amelia would never kill herself. This is confirmed when she begins receiving text messages from an anonymous source telling her that, “Amelia didn’t jump”. With the help of a detective, she digs deeper into Amelia’s life. What she finds will surprise you. Everyone has a secret in this book!
I did find it a little strange that the detective would let the mother of the victim come along with him while he conducts an investigation. I just can’t see that happen in real life. I guess though it was necessary for the story so we could learn more about Amelia’s past from Kate’s point of view.
Amelia reminded me of myself as a teenager. She was quiet, followed the rules and was a bookworm with her nose always stuck in a book. She was a nice girl with one close friend, Sylvia, and didn’t really belong to any of the school cliques. When Amelia is invited to join the Magpies, a secret girl’s club at her school, she should have said no. However, she felt drawn to Dylan, a girl in the club, and that is what made her stay. The club’s leader, Zadie, is what I would call a classic mean girl. It was sickening watching how cruel she was to Amelia. It just reminded me of how mean girls can be and brought me back to my own high school days. I think every high school has their own set of mean girls.
Nothing is what it seems in Reconstructing Amelia. I didn’t guess the ending correctly at all and it really shocked me how it all turned out. I read this book in a matter of a couple days and stayed up hours every night reading so I could find out what happened. I savoured every page and was sad to see it end. If there’s only one book you read this year, let it be Reconstructing Amelia.
*I received a copy of this book for review, but was not compensated financially in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based solely on my experiences while reading this novel.*