By Kimberly McCreight
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062225436, April 2013, 400pp.)
The Short of It:
Is it possible to know everything about a person? What if that person is your own daughter? For Kate Baron, she thought she could answer these questions without hesitation, but when disaster strikes and so many questions are left unanswered, she’s forced to admit that she doesn’t know her daughter that well after all.
The Rest of It:
Critics everywhere have said that Reconstructing Amelia is the next Gone Girl. After reading both, I have to disagree because I thought Reconstructing Amelia was quite a bit better and overall, handled a little more realistically as far at the plot itself, but I still had some issues with it.
Without giving it all away, I can tell you that Kate is a type A personality. She’s a very successful lawyer, raising a teenage daughter by herself. She’s a concerned parent but routinely unavailable for Amelia even though they have their weekly movie nights at home. Amelia is a good student and is sensible for the most part, but when she is chosen to join a secret club at school, her judgement goes out the window and she ends up in quite a bit of trouble, Trouble, that she tries to handle on her own. When she is accused of plagiarism, Kate can’t believe it. Amelia would never cheat. As Kate makes her way to the school to discuss the incident, She’s more mad than anything, but when she gets there, the news she is given is even more horrible than what she imagined.
I must tell you that this book has a very Young Adult feel to it, even though it’s not being marketed to that audience. To me, books in that genre tend to take everyday acts and blow them completely out of proportion. Granted, a lot of what happens to Amelia is horrible but it’s a tad overdramatized and there were times where I just wanted to shake the girl. The same can be said of Kate. She’s the adult in this equation and yet, she had a very young feel to her. I didn’t completely buy her character and she frustrated me because she truly seems so clueless at times.
However, what I think McCreight nailed is how quickly things can get out of hand and how awful kids at that age can be to one another. The presence of social media has made bullying a 24/7 act and the unrelenting nature of that type of bullying makes it nearly impossible to escape from. I felt the desperation of these characters and how hopeless such a situation would be but it bothered me that Amelia continued to make bad choices right up until the end.
Criticism aside, it was a page turner. I read it while reading two other books and I found myself giving this book a little more attention than the others. But if you are at all annoyed by DRAMA and in that I mean teen drama, then this may not be the book for you. There is lots of drama and some language, although the language did not bother me at all. Nor did the conversations about sex which were actually pretty tame. The actions of some of the adults in the book will infuriate you so be prepared for that but overall, I felt it was an impressive debut.
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