Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCeight


“A stunning debut novel in which a single mother reconstructs her teenage 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.”

I was immediately grabbed when I read about this as I myself am a teenage girl who has a good relationship with my mother. However my secrets are nothing compared with Amelia’s (so don’t worry about me mum if you’re reading this!)

I was worried that a big proportion of this book would be taken up with Kate’s (Amelia’s mother) grieving, but I was pleasantly surprised. Obviously Kate was devastated by the loss of her child but she managed to channel her grief into investigating the circumstances surrounding Amelia’s apparent suicide.

I liked the way the story was presented; some chapters were narrated by Amelia from before/leading up to her death  and some were narrated by Kate as she figured out what to do after the tragedy. This dual narration worked beautifully as it meant that as the reader I learned more about Amelia as Kate herself was discovering her daughter’s secrets.

As well as the two viewpoints, there were sections of Amelia’s texts, emails and Facebook posts which were a great way of putting me into Kate’s shoes as I felt that I was the one sifting through Amelia’s things. Piecing the evidence together in that way helped me to understand more of what Kate was going through.

It was an extremely emotional book as you can probably expect, and the characters developed well leaving me rather attached to them. It was strange; because of the way the book was written it felt like Amelia had been brought back to life and was living through her story. There was a sort of magic in the way this story was told.

I would strongly recommend this as a superb novel to read; it was fast-paced and exciting with excellent use of foreshadowing. I have heard it been compared to the well known book ‘Gone Girl’, and described as the perfect combination of a crime story and a relationship drama. A brilliant mystery!

4.5/5 rating.


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An aspiring cellist, I absolutely adore reading, and even if it means squeezing it into the cracks of my busy life I am still determined to read more! For me, a truly great novel isn't just flashy with a fast paced plot and glossy characters, it is good literature that traps you with every word and entices you to read on. I write quick-to-read book reviews on CreativeThoughtBubble, as well as occasionally publishing short stories of my own.

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