Reconstructing Amelia is a debut novel by Kimberly McCreight, and, my gosh, is it good. In the beginning of the novel readers meet Kate, a single mother and successful lawyer who struggles daily with determining which role is more important. Her daughter, Amelia, is a bright, creative, thoughtful and focused high school student. Despite Kate’s “crushing work hours, she knew her daughter. Really knew her,” she assures herself. But the closeness of their bond is called to question when Kate receives a phone call that Amelia has been suspended for cheating. Upon reaching the school, Kate discovers that the severity of the situation has escalated: Amelia has jumped to her death from the school’s roof. Blinded by grief, Kate accepts Amelia’s apparent suicide as truth until one afternoon when she receives a chilling, anonymous text message: “She didn’t jump…”.
Intrigued? I was too. And from the first chapter on until the final chapter, I could not put this book down. The gripping storyline follows Kate as she tries to uncover the truth behind her daughter’s death, leading the reader through the lives (and lies) of students, parents, teachers and employees. No one knows the truth, and everyone has something to hide.
An interesting aspect of this book, and one that Kimberly McCreight does very well, is the shifting narration. Not only do readers follow Kate as she attempts to reveal the truth behind Amelia’s “suicide,” but we also see Amelia’s perspective during the months leading up the her death. Interspersed between these narrations are blog posts, Facebook status updates, text message conversations and hand-written notes that Kate must use to reconstruct the last few months of Amelia’s life.
This story will draw in young fans of television hit Pretty Little Liars. It will attract older fans of faced-paced mystery thrillers. Its mean girls and exclusive cliques are a teenager’s bad dream; Kate’s pain is a parent’s worst nightmare.