Book Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

I’ve been meaning to pick up Reconstructing Amelia since last year when everyone was calling it “the next Gone Girl.”  And while it certainly kept me on my toes and was as hard to put down as Gone Girl, I didn’t find any other similarities between the two. Plus, I completely agree with the general consensus that the ending to Gone Girl is THE WORST. And the ending to Reconstructing Amelia is only kind of disappointing.

But I’m already ahead of myself.

Here’s the description from the publisher:

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.

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.

It was interesting to read this book after reading another Gillian Flynn book, Dark Places and while I still had Dare Me in the forefront of my mind. I was reminded of how much I sometimes like to read books that have similar plots one right after another. I liked Reconstrucing Ameila more than the other two though. I liked the characters, I cared about what really happened to Amelia, I sympathized with Kate, and for the most part, the plot kept me guessing. It became more and more predictable as the story went on and as I mentioned above, I was a little disappointed with the ending.

But overall, I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it. I would even recommend reading all three books in succession and toss in a viewing of Megan is Missing if you’d like to become 100% convinced that Megan Abbott was spot on when she wrote that “there’s something dangerous about the boredom of teenage girls.”

And with that delightful recommendation, I’d also suggest that you end that experience with Fangirl to remind yourself that it gets better.

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