Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 4/2/13
Source: Received from publicist for review.
A stunning debut novel in which a single mother reconstructs her teenaged daughter's life, sifting through her emails, texts, and social media to piece together the shocking truth about the last days of her life.I will just get to it, Reconstructing Amelia was a completely gripping, emotional, and intricate story.
Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter's exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.
Kate can't believe that Amelia, an ambitious, levelheaded girl who's never been in trouble would do something like that. But by the time she arrives at Grace Hall, Kate's faced with far more devastating news. Amelia is dead.
Seemingly unable to cope with what she'd done, a despondent Amelia has jumped from the school's roof in an act of "spontaneous" suicide. At least that's the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. And overwhelmed as she is by her own guilt and shattered by grief, it is the story that Kate believes until she gets the anonymous text:
She didn't jump.
Sifting through Amelia's emails, text messages, social media postings, and cell phone logs, Kate is determined to learn the heartbreaking truth about why Amelia was on Grace Hall's roof that day-and why she died.
Told in alternating voices, Reconstructing Amelia is a story of secrets and lies, of love and betrayal, of trusted friends and vicious bullies. It's about how well a parent ever really knows a child and how far one mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she could not save.
From the moment I first learned of this book, I wanted to read it. When I learned that it had been optioned for film, I was even more excited. I will also say that the subject scared me, too. I am convinced that nothing in life is as frightening as being a parent. Zombies, aliens, serial killers...they're all terrifying, sure. When you have a child, a lot of us spend our time marveling at the miracles, time just trying to make it through the day without screwing up too badly, and the rest of the time convinced we will fail our children. It's scary business. But as a parent, nothing is as terrifying as the thought of losing your child. Reconstructing Amelia is a mother's search for the truth of her daughter's death, while discovering the hidden truths of her daughter's life.
I honestly anticipated Reconstructing Amelia to be a much tougher read than it was. Yes, it was heartbreaking to read Kate learning her daughter had died, even more so with the death being ruled a suicide, and Kate having no clue as to why her daughter would take her own life. It was difficult to see Kate struggling to hold herself together in the aftermath, to simply keep moving and breathing. It was so sad as we (Kate and the reader) start uncovering what Amelia had been struggling with in the days before her death. But with the story's focus being largely on the mystery of Amelia's life in the month or so before her death, and Kate's determination to force the truth out of hiding, this kept the overwhelming sadness of the story back a bit. The mystery of Amelia's life and death was simply fascinating.
I loved the way Reconstructing Amelia unfolded, and found it to be very well done. The story alternated between the present: told through Kate's point-of-view, the past: Amelia's point-of-view of the months leading to her death, and Kate's point-of-view of the past, in the time of her pregnancy with Amelia. The alternating points-of-view helped shed light on Kate and Amelia's lives so beautifully. And it might seem strange for the girl who'd died to have a point-of-view, but I found that it made Amelia's story so much stronger, and helped her not be impetus to a story, but a full part of it. Amelia's story brings up relevant and frightening topics such as bullying, the negative impacts of social media on teens, and secret groups at schools.
Reconstructing Amelia was a story that I could not bear to put down. I wanted justice and truth for Amelia and Kate. I wanted Kate to know that she was a good mother who did her best, despite not having full awareness of her daughter's life. I wanted those who'd hurt Amelia to be found out. I was surprised, really, by the ending and the truth about Amelia's death. It was not what I expected, but truly stunning and sad. Reconstructing Amelia is a story that I will be recommending to many readers, and it is one that I will not forget. I hope the film adaptation does justice to such a remarkable book.
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