Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
After avoiding it for months because it had become “too” popular, last winter I finally downloaded Gone Girl to read on the long flight from western China to Idaho. (I tend to get a little snotty about books that *everyone* says I must read. When they become a cultural phenomenon, I get turned off by the saturation in the news and internet. It’s uppity and judgmental, I know. And yet, it’s how I roll.) But back to Gone Girl,I loved it! With that rambling introduction, this isn’t a review for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but rather one that came up on a recommendation list I look at saying if I liked that one, I should try Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. They were right!
Much like the suspense that kept me turning pages way too late at night with Flynn’s book, Reconstructing Amelia had me spellbound much longer that was prudent for the few days the book lasted. McCreight’s story starts with the suicide of Amelia, who jumped off the roof of her liberal, left-wing private school, and her mother’s arrival on the scene. But, it quickly jumps back in time, leading readers through the months prior to Amelia’s death, creating a picture of a teenage world much more complicated than her single, long-hour working lawyer of a mother would have liked to believe she lived in.
Told through Kate’s investigation of her daughter’s death (six weeks after Amelia’s death, on the day she returns to work at her high-priced law firm, Kate receives a text message from a blocked number saying Amelia didn’t jump), the reader follows Amelia’s steps, and missteps, in those crucial months before she died. We not only get to have Amelia as a narrator, but, along with her grieving mother, we delve into her texts and emails (somewhere most parents don’t want to go), her relationships (both long-standing and newly-budding) and read past editions of a nasty online newsletter circulated anonymously at her school.
Several time throughout the book I thought I had pieced together the puzzle of why Amelia would take such a drastic measure, only to have the pieces shift and leave me looking at a whole new scene. McCreight does a wonderful job of giving readers enough information to keep them hooked, but not revealing the entire story until the final pages of the novel.
A tale of a young girl’s suicide may not seem like the book you want to rush home from work to curl up with on the couch, but Kimberly McCreight weaves a tale so intricate and twist-filled that I did just that- scurried home from work and into my pajamas so I could read a chapter or two before dinner and then another few before bed, easily earning Reconstructing Amelia: