Simon & Schuster
In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter–now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.
An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump.
Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save.
A moving and engaging story that both teenagers and parents can relate to and one I feel sure will be picked up by book clubs across the world with it universal story of school yard bullying, manipulation, teenage suicide and sexual awakenings.
I enjoyed this modern mystery, I was engaged in the story and really wanted to find out what really did happen to Amelia on that roof. The more knowledge I was given about Amelia’s private life through her texts, emails and face book posts, the more concerned I felt. McCreight builds the tension perfectly, providing the reader with several perspectives – through alternative chapters of narration – Amelia’s recounting episodes of the immediate past as it happened to her and Kate’s looking back with the additional reference points provided by reading her daughters private social media and text messages.
This novel asks many questions including do we really know our own children? Any parent will tell you it is a scary world we bring our children into – there are so many evil’s out there we want to protect our children from but we really can’t protect them from the faceless beings that prowl the electronic social media seeking innocents. We cannot protect our children all the time, we have to let them grow and make decisions for themselves but sometimes they are not equipped to make those decisions wisely. Sometimes growing up and make decisions for themselves comes at a cost. For Amelia it cost her life.
I was very impressed at the way this novel tackled bullying, it is a subject that needs to aired and openly discussed. Electronic media make bullying so much more insidious and so much harder to control; messages, images, photos can be sent anytime, anywhere and to mass audiences with little or no costs. And the content of this messages is cannot be simply eradicated…the messages are forever.
Enough of my ranting….a great fast paced read. Plenty of issues are raised that will bring forth much needed discussion. This is an issues based book and a mystery in one. This book does not apologise for being such, it rejoices in challenging you, the reader to open your eyes and see the modern world and social media for what it can be for your children – potentially dangerous and damaging. It doesn’t offer solutions just opens discussions. A great read.