… the tragic death of Amelia Baron? Kimberly McCreight’s debut novel, Reconstructing Amelia, begins with Kate Baron, a single mother and attorney, receiving a call from her daughter Amelia’s exclusive private school, saying that Amelia had plagiarized her latest English essay. Kate can’t believe that her intelligent daughter would have done something like this, so she heads to the school to sort everything out. By the time she gets there, however, she finds that Amelia has fallen to her death from the school roof in an apparent act of suicide.
Several months after Amelia’s death, Kate receives a text message saying “Amelia didn’t jump,” confirming what she already knew in her heart – that Amelia didn’t commit suicide. As Kate begins her own investigation into Amelia’s death, she realizes just how many secrets her daughter had, and how she barely knew her daughter at all.
One of this book’s biggest accomplishments is how authentically Amelia’s teenage world is portrayed. The story may take place at a privileged high school, but the uncertainty, fear, and frustration are definitively universal for anyone who went to an American high school.
Lately, I’ve found myself drawn more and more to the literary thriller genre, which has been popularized by Gillian Flynn’s breakout novel, Gone Girl. If you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn, or character-centered suspense novels, I highly recommend Reconstructing Amelia. It’s a thrilling and intense mystery, but it’s also a poignant story of high school hazing, love, sexuality, and friendship. Can’t go wrong with that.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)