Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (5 out of 5)
Kate, a single mom, receives a phone call while at her job at a high-powered law firm. The voice on the other end belongs to someone at Grace Hall; her daughter Amelia’s high school. They inform Kate that Amelia is being suspended for “cheating” on a paper about Virgina Woolf and that Kate needs to come and get her ASAP. Kate immediately expresses disbelief and then tells them she’ll be there as soon as she can. The commute is not an easy one, and Kate arrives over an hour later. She arrives to find cops, ambulances, and people milling all over; clearly something major has gone down. Imagine her horror- anyone who’s a parent could- when she is restrained by a police officer and told that Amelia is dead! She’s told that Amelia jumped off the roof of the school, no suicide note was left, but the word SORRY is scrawled on a wall on the roof. Kate grieves, but slowly starts putting the pieces together. Something about none of this adds up (blogger’s note: This book has more twists and turns than Dead Man’s Curve) when she confronts Officer Molina with things about the case that don’t make any sense; shortly after, a new detective Lew is assigned to the case. Thankfully for Kate, this detective not only believes her when she says she is positive that Amelia didn’t commit suicide, but he’s a huge help. In the meantime, Kate is beating herself up because Amelia had tried to get information out of her before her death- namely, the name and circumstance surrounding her long absent father (Kate is a single, overworked mother. It shows), and she dodged her daughter’s questions. Throw in a secretive club that Amelia was recently inducted into, a mysterious boy who kept texting Amelia but never met her in person, a vindictive lawyer who makes Kate’s life very difficult at every corner of the job, another lawyer who’s entirely too friendly toward Kate, and all sorts of supporting characters that bring about a whirlwind of suspicious activity that makes Kate determined to find out what happened to Amelia that led up to her death, and who did it. What they uncover is a crazy little ride. I love that the author addressed the very real issue of bullying. How often have you turned on the news or opened a newspaper and read a story about a kid offing themselves because of bullying that they endured at the hands of classmates? Poor Amelia. When the full story lays out at the end, it has multiple layers of duplicity, pure evil, and a ridiculous need for a prestigious school to keep its sacred reputation intact, even at the price of the death of a young girl. It’s the type of thing to make you see red, and then you’re going “WTF?” at the same time. That’s why you need to read this book. It would be a fantastic book club read. It’s compared to “Gone Girl” on the cover. Well, you know what I thought of “Gone Girl” (see post from August 2012). I think this book kicks its ass with leaps (pun NOT intended), bounds, and layers of shock upon shock. No stone is left unturned; every character that McCreight weaves into the story has a purpose and some place in Amelia’s eventual demise. Your heart is still broken at the end of the book for Kate, but at the same time, I love that Kate is a character who has no problem admitting that she was not the best parent she could have been, but that she doesn’t make excuses or take any easy ways out, which in literature, is not an uncommon factor. The characters are completely real, and no phone grandstanding in this book. A straight up, emotional powerhouse of a book. Read it.