Published by Harper Collins on 4/2/2013
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
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A stunning debut novel in which a single mother reconstructs her teenaged daughter's life, sifting through her emails, texts, and social media to piece together the shocking truth about the last days of her life.
Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter's exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.
Kate can't believe that Amelia, an ambitious, levelheaded girl who's never been in trouble would do something like that. But by the time she arrives at Grace Hall, Kate's faced with far more devastating news. Amelia is dead.
Seemingly unable to cope with what she'd done, a despondent Amelia has jumped from the school's roof in an act of "spontaneous" suicide. At least that's the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. And overwhelmed as she is by her own guilt and shattered by grief, it is the story that Kate believes until she gets the anonymous text:
She didn't jump.
Sifting through Amelia's emails, text messages, social media postings, and cell phone logs, Kate is determined to learn the heartbreaking truth about why Amelia was on Grace Hall's roof that day-and why she died.
Told in alternating voices, Reconstructing Amelia is a story of secrets and lies, of love and betrayal, of trusted friends and vicious bullies. It's about how well a parent ever really knows a child and how far one mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she could not save.
One part Gossip Girl, one part whodunit, and one part coming-of-age story…I don’t even know how to categorize Reconstructing Amelia, but I couldn’t put it down! We know from the beginning that Amelia is dead and that there can truly be no happy ending to this story. Because of this, I wasn’t sure I was going to feel justified at the end, but this book was so engrossing and had so many twists and turns that the ending left me feeling completely satisfied. Sad, but satisfied.
The story is written both in the past from Amelia’s point of view and from her mother’s perspective in the present. We also see text messages, a mysterious school gossip blog, Facebook updates, and old journal entries. I really liked these different vantage points, especially the way we learned about Amelia’s last days of secrets and self-discovery while at the same time trying to figure out the mystery of her death. Was it a suicide, as the police originally ruled? Or, as an anonymous text suggests to Amelia’s grieving mother, something more sinister?
Amelia’s death is not the only mystery that we are trying to solve along the way. There are several others (which I won’t give away!), and I really liked the way that all of these intricate storylines were woven together. I also liked that this book managed to really surprise me a couple of times. Just when I started feeling smug and though I had it all figured out, I was thrown for a loop.
I was able to relate to both Amelia and her mother Kate. Amelia is a likeable teenager – a smart and independent “good girl” who is struggling with the typical issues of friendship and love. Her single mother is struggling to balance her extremely demanding job as an attorney with being a good mom. After Amelia’s death, she is determined to find out the truth about what really happened, and ends up finding out much more about not only her daughter, but herself and her own past. There isn’t much more I can say without giving anything away, but I highly, highly recommend this one!