Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight

Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight


This book should not be touted as the next ‘Gone Girl’. Sure, it’s a mystery thriller but the writing isn’t at all captivating… And there isn’t anywhere near the level of psychopathy evident here – that was what I liked most in Gillian Flynn’s novel!

The story follows Kate Baron, a mother whose daughter appears to have committed suicide. However, she receives a text shortly after the death: “Amelia didn’t jump”. This sparks a quest to discover what really happened to her daughter.

It’s a good premise – a mother reconstructing her daughter’s life and discovering how much she doesn’t really know but there is just way too much going on…. During the course of the novel, there are almost twenty people who seem to have had a hand in Amelia’s death.

Plus, it is completely unbelievable that Kate would be accompanying the detective to interview all the parties involved and having an active role in dissecting the minutiae. What kind of policeman lets the grieving mother form a part of his investigation?

It was an easy read though there were sections where I considered stopping… Took me about half a day to get through but it isn’t something I’d read again…

The characters were just too stereotypical to get close to. Kate is the single mother struggling to achieve the perfect work/life balance. Amelia is the teenager struggling with fitting in and discovering her sexuality. And then her classmates are a mix of drug addicts, sex addicts and the mentally ill. Even the adults in the story act like angst-ridden teenagers!

And McCreight spends the whole novel defending Kate and Amelia and their relationship, pushing hard to make these characters appear perfect. And that annoys me… Kate obviously works too much – she didn’t know her daughter as well as she thought she did etc. – but McCreight wants us all to know again and again that she was a great mother. And Amelia spends the last few months of her life lying and deceiving people, yet we are constantly reminded that she is a prodigal student and daughter. Flaws should be acknowledged in characters so that we can see them in ourselves. Perfect characters only make us feel bad….

The end was unexpected… I did feel like I had to keep reading to know who was involved in Amelia’s death, but I also feel like those are completely wasted hours of my life. It raised no questions other than the typical teenage angsty ones – I never felt the depth of Kate’s grief; it felt more like curiosity and not the desperate need a mother has to know what happened to her daughter. And by the end, Kate has found herself a man – something she couldn’t do as a single mother… Come on!

I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are bored out of your mind or you like crappy novels that leave you feeling unsatisfied. And that was how the story left me – completely unsatisfied and happy to forget I’d read it…


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