In Kimberly McCreight’s debut novel, lawyer and single mother Kate is in the middle of working on a case when she gets a call from her teenage daughter’s private school telling her she must pick up her daughter, Amelia, because she’s been suspended from school for cheating on a paper.
Immediately Kate senses something is wrong because her daughter has always had strong morals and done extremely well in school. When she arrives, she discovers emergency vehicles and school officials telling her that her daughter committed suicide by jumping from the top of the building.
Kate grieves her daughter’s loss and suffers through guilt from not spending enough time with the daughter she thought she knew until she gets an anonymous text telling her that Amelia did not jump. Kate launches into an investigation of Amelia’s last days and discovers secrets she never knew about her daughter.
It’s a story full of twists, similar to Gone Girl. I enjoyed the story overall. I liked how McCreight layers the narratives going between Kate, Amelia, text messages, and online chats. I enjoyed slowly discovering who Amelia was in her final days.
I think McCreight did a great job of playing on the psychological warfare that is cyber bullying and the paranoid schools and parents trying to cope with it. From a horror perspective, she hits the nail on the head by preying on this popular trend in parenting. I mean, Christ! It’s a single mom’s worst nightmare to think she’s been doing everything right, only to find that her daughter was caught up in all of this trouble. I also think Amelia and Kate are extremely likeable characters that are worth rooting for.
However, I was disappointed with this novel. It seemed more like a cautionary tale Lifetime movie. I kept thinking that it was a nice effort, but I never really got into it, and the characters seemed too contrived to be realistic. The plot got to be exhausting with all of the folds and surprises. It just lacked a certain something that would make the book shine. I just hope that this was a first effort from McCreight and that she’ll release an awesome second book.
I read great reviews on this book from several sources like Entertainment Weekly where it was deemed “this year’s Gone Girl” http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20685797,00.html, so I was all
But it fell ridiculously short. I would skip this one just because it lacks enough maturity to be a true hit and is too strung out to be a young adult hit in the Pretty Little Liars/ Gossip Girl genre.
It would be worth reading before you see its film adaptation starring Nicole Kidman, as mentioned on my much referenced Buzzfeed’s list of “14 Books to Read Before They Hit the Big Screen”http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/books-to-read-before-they-hit-the-big-screen so you can be snotty about how the book was much better OR , in this case, how the film actually improved upon the book because Nicole Kidman is flawless.
- Review: Reconstructing Amelia (bermudaonion.net)
- Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight (lasesana.com)
- Summer Reading Part 2 (metropolitanmusings.com)
- Mini-reviews: Books about bullying (heatherlo.wordpress.com)
- 14 Books To Read Before They Hit The Big Screen (5pinkave.com)