Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Published by Simon & Schuster in 2013
My copy: Second-hand copy
Stressed single mother and law partner Kate is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call to say that her teenaged daughter Amelia has been suspended from her exclusive Brooklyn prep school for cheating on an exam. Torn between her head and her heart, she eventually arrives at St Grace’s over an hour late, to be greeted by sirens wailing and ambulance lights blazing. Her daughter has jumped off the roof of the school, apparently in shame of being caught. A grieving Kate can’t accept that her daughter would kill herself… And so begins an investigation which takes her deep into Amelia’s private world, into her journals, her email account and into the mind of a troubled young girl. Then Kate receives an anonymous text saying simply: AMELIA DIDN’T JUMP. Is someone playing with her or has she been right all along?
I finished this book just yesterday and I keep thinking about it – but not for good reasons! I keep thinking of different things that didn’t really make sense or add up.
The story is told through various methods including Amelia’s first person narrative, emails and texts prior to her death, and in the present day as Kate joins forces with a policeman to uncover the truth…
We soon find out that Amelia had been tapped up to join an exclusive, secret club of girls – The Magpies. They’re a very unpleasant bunch and make new members go through several initiation rituals before they can become a fully-fledged Magpie. Amelia – completely out of character – goes along with these, mainly because she has fallen for one of her fellow Magpies. She keeps all of this from her best friend Sylvia and her mum, even when things become increasingly nasty – although she does confide in Ben, a stranger she exchanges texts with.
Although I was interested to find out what would happen in the book and read it to the end, I have to admit I did have a lot of problems with the novel. Firstly I never really took to Kate or Amelia – I didn’t find either character very convincing and as I found out more about them, things just didn’t quite fit together for me. Kate’s secretive nature about the identity of Amelia’s father was odd – and the twist in this part of the story was also bizarre and didn’t really add anything to the plot. Also the identity of the mystery texter ‘Ben’ and the writer of bitchy school newsletter Gracefully seemed totally unbelievable! I also found it implausible that Kate would be allowed to go around interviewing potential witnesses with the Lieutenant.
And why oh why did the token British character have to say “luv” at the end of every sentence?!
It seemed that the author had tried to fit too many twists and sub-plots into this novel, and when they all finally came together most of them were totally unbelievable, and although everything was supposedly tied up at the end, I still had loads of questions. What actually motivated these characters to act as they did? And why did no-one seem to question the very odd behaviour of a lot of the grown-up characters? While all the teenagers in the book were pretty horrible, the grown-ups also behaved in completely unbelievable ways that were never fully explained. In fact, since finishing the book I keep thinking of other problems and plot holes, and things that just didn’t really add up at all.
Although there was enough here to keep me reading, ultimately I found myself indifferent to the characters and unable to believe in the story at all.
My rating: 4 out of 10