A rule-following, intelligent teenager dies when she falls from the roof of her affluent New York City high school. At first, her lawyer mother accepts the police’s ruling that the horrific death was a suicide. As a single parent, she blames herself for not being around enough for her daughter, Amelia. However, an anonymous text message declaring that her daughter didn’t jump shocks her out of her grief and she starts asking questions and looking for answers. As she digs deeper into the weeks leading up to her daughter’s death, she learns that Amelia was hiding many secrets. Alternating chapters fill readers in on Amelia’s life, which includes secret school clubs, hazing, a mysterious friend she only knows via text message, a hunt for her father’s identity, skipping school, encounters with her principal and English teacher, and a budding relationship with a girl. The mother starts to wonder if her daughter really did commit suicide – perhaps life was just becoming too much for her. Readers will eagerly turn the pages of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight as they try to find out the truth, too.
This book had been on my TBR list for a long time, as it was on a 2013 Buzzfeed list of 14 books to read before they become movies. All of the other books on the list (Divergent, The Fault in our Stars, Ender’s Game, The Maze Runner, Gone Girl, just to name a few) did become movies…except for Reconstructing Amelia. IMDB still lists the project as “in development” and the only name attached to it is Nicole Kidman. So I’m not sure that this project will ever move forward, but it would make a pretty great movie or TV miniseries. The book touches on a lot of important issues like bullying, unhealthy friendships, how much parents and schools should monitor and be involved with what young people do online, and strengthening the relationship between educators and parents, as they both have an important place in the care and raising of our young people.
I went into this book cautiously. I figured that a book with a lot of hype and a possible movie deal could lead to disappointment (Serena by Ron Rash was also on the Buzzfeed list, and you can read my thoughts about that one here). However, the more I read, the more I became hooked. I wanted to find out what had happened in Amelia’s life and how all of the texts and emails would look afterwards to her mother. So many different pieces were woven together to create a compelling snapshot of the lives of Amelia and her mother. I stayed up late to finish reading this book and it was worth it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good thriller, especially teachers, parents of teens, and mature teenagers. Reconstructing Amelia turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2016, and I’m hoping you will enjoy this one as much as I did.