Reconstructing Amelia is Kimberly McCreight's debut novel.
Kate Baron is a single mother to Amelia and a partner in a law firm. Her job keeps her incredibly busy, but when she receives a telephone call from her daughter's exclusive private school, she has to cut her day short. Amelia has been suspended - for cheating. This is completely out of character for her daughter - Kate is annoyed at the faculty and the fact that she has to leave a meeting with an important client. But what she finds when she arrives at Grace Hall is beyond comprehension - Amelia is dead. Suicide the cops say.
Kate is on autopilot, dealing with the funeral and trying to come to terms with the fact that Amelia is gone when she receives an anonymous text - "Amelia didn't jump."
Kate never believed her daughter would kill herself and now she sets out to prove it. She 'reconstructs' Amelia's life from journals, text messages, Facebook entries, emails and the school's gossip blog. McCreight unravels Amelia's life in alternate chapters from Kate's viewpoint and that of Amelia herself.
Reconstructing Amelia is frightening in that it echos many of today's headlines - bullying deaths to be specific. This isn't an easy read/listen - my heart broke for Kate and I just wanted to grab Amelia and protect her. And it made me very afraid for anyone with a teenage daughter. McCreight's plotting keeps us guessing with many red herrings and twists along the way.
I did choose to listen to this book - Kristine Hvam was the reader and she was excellent. She has a very versatile voice - easily portraying teenage tones and switching to the adult characters effortlessly. The teen voices were particularly effective. Listen to an excerpt of Reconstructing Amelia.
Although not listed as YA fiction, I can see Reconstructing Amelia as a crossover title. And it would spark much discussion between mothers and daughters or in book clubs. A reading guide is available. Nicole Kidman has signed on to produce and star in an HBO film of Reconstructing Amelia.
You can find Kimberly McCreight on Facebook and on Twitter.