24 Books in 2015 - Reconstructing Amelia (August)

Quite a few months ago, my mother-in-law loaned me some books that she thought I'd be interested in reading, and in the stack was Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

Reconstructing Amelia

The plot synopsis sounded interesting enough: the daughter (our Amelia) of a successful lawyer allegedly commits suicide at her private school. The case seems open and shut until the mother receives texts indicating that her daughter may not have killed herself. An investigation and flashbacks to the daughter's final months ensues. As my Classics professor Dr. Perkins would say, "drama-drama-drama."

Something I really liked about the writing style was that the story was told from multiple points of view: the mother's present-day experiences, Amelia's Facebook posts and text conversations, and her experiences in the time before her untimely death. This style was used by Gillian Flynn in Gone Girl, which was an excellent book, and I think it works really well for McCreight in Reconstructing Amelia. The story couldn't be told in such a rich and complete way without the multiple perspectives dovetailing to answer one question: what really happened to Amelia?

If you're worried about vague, quasi-spoilers, skip this paragraph. What is most relevant about Reconstructing Amelia, though, is the social issues that McCreight hits on, primarily those surrounding LGBT youth. It's heartbreaking to read about the taunting, bullying, and feelings of loneliness that the book's LGBT character has to deal with. These are terrible things that real-life LGBT teenagers everywhere have to deal with daily, and many unfortunately deal with it at a more extreme level than McCreight describes. Reconstructing Amelia also touches on the trouble that teenagers can get into now, thanks to the inventions of modern technology; it's pretty troublesome to say the least. In short, McCreight draws a fairly accurate picture of what being a teenager looks like today. She openly discusses these issues that are threatening the today's youth but that some would rather ignore.

As soon as I finished the book, I was happy with the story in general. However, the more I think about it, and the more time that passes, there are some problems I have with Reconstructing Amelia. Everything went well until the last fifty or so pages, aka the most important part where the mystery is solved and loose ends are tied. A lot happens in the other 300 or so pages to get to this critical stage, and key plots that were brought up throughout the book were sloppily resolved, including the truth behind how Amelia died. McCreight rushes through the resolution of the story, and some of those loose ends are tied in a confusing and unclear manner. More time and attention should have been given to wrapping up the plot, because clearly a lot of time and attention was put into setting up the rest of the book.

All-in-all, though, Reconstructing Amelia was a surprising book. I thought it would be a run-of-the mill murder mystery, but it turned out to be a murder mystery with a keen social commentary. It was hurriedly and ambiguously wrapped up, but I feel that the rest of the book makes Reconstructing Amelia worth the read.

What about you, Hipsters? What did you think about Reconstructing Amelia?

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