Sunday, April 7, 2013
Reconstructing Amelia Review
"And off we go into this year's Gone Girl..." With that one line from Entertainment Weekly's review of Reconstructing Amelia, I immediately knew I'd be hooked and have to read this book. If you've read my reviews since Gone Girl, you might know that I've been looking for a book with a similar feel some one of Gillian Flynn's novels. Reconstructing Amelia almost hit the spot - at least it got closer than anything else I've read recently.
Young single mother Kate is a workaholic lawyer whose daughter Amelia Baron has killed herself by jumping off the roof of her exclusive, Brooklyn private school, Grace Hall - all because she supposedly plagiarized a paper on Virginia Woolf. This is shocking for anyone who knew pretty, brainy Amelia - never one of the popular girls, but a relatively happy, if slightly lonely sophomore.
Not long after the funeral Kate received an anonymous text message reading "Amelia didn't jump," which sets off her investigation into her daughter's death. Like Gone Girl, Amelia and Kate take turns narrating chapters - Kate from the present as she searches for clues into how/why Amelia died and Amelia from the months leading up to her death as she is tapped to join a secret society of girls and falls in love for the first time, all of which happened without her mother's knowledge. Interspersed in the book are excerpts from Amelia's texts, her facebook posts, Kate's diary entries and emails dating back to 1997, when Amelia was conceived, and Gossip Girl-eque school blog called gRaCeFULLY. Obviously bullying plays a large role in the twists and turns of Amelia's final weeks. Kate, who is racked with guilt over her long hours working, throws herself into the case, trying desperately to reconstruct the last months of Amelia's life and illuminate the truth behind her daughter's death.
At first I wanted to call this book Gone Girl light. Or Gone Girl meets a combination of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars (which I am not ashamed to reveal that I have become a bit obsessed with recently. For a show on ABC Family that seems incredibly dumb, it's actually an entertaining, soapy, gothic story that I kinda love). There seemed to be more at stake with Gone Girl. After all, in that book Amy, the main character was missing. With Amelia already being dead, what could really happen in this book? The incredibly fucked up twists within Gone Girl wouldn't work here because Amelia wasn't missing, wasn't pulling a fast one on anyway; she was really, truly dead. I wasn't expecting much more than a standard whodunit. However, there were so many twists and turns in this book revealing not only how Amelia really died but also what she had been up to before her death, who her father is and how much the school was willing to cover up.
I guessed some of the twists but was mostly pretty surprised by what happened (the author also threw in some red herrings that made me second guess my original suspicions). I read the last 20% at the gym today and spent an extra twenty minutes there, forgetting to let my husband know where I was because I was so totally engrossed.
So do yourselves a favor: if you loved Gone Girl, pick this up. If you haven't read either, get cracking. This was an awesome book!
NY Daily News Review
Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble