Thursday, August 29, 2013
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
If you like: secret societies * catfishing * friendship
Reconstructing Amelia is the story of a mother's journey to reassemble the pieces of her daughter's life and find out what could have driven her to apparent suicide. Kate is shocked when she is told that her daughter, Amelia, has jumped off the roof of her school. Though she initially accepts this, over time it becomes clear that there was much more going on than she was aware. With each painful detail, she learns about the situation Amelia was involved in, and discovers much more about her daughter than she could have dreamed.
Secrets are central to Reconstructing Amelia. Throughout her life, the identity of Amelia's father was kept from her by her mother. As the truth of Amelia's paternity is revealed, it is easy to see why Kate kept it a secret. Holding onto the idea of a man she wished was the father of her child allowed her to believe in so much more for Amelia than she would have thought possible if Amelia was connected with her true father. Amelia is at the center of many other secrets. When she is tapped to join one of the clubs on campus, she must withhold it from everyone outside her new social circle. As with any initiation, she must perform erratic activities, and alienate the loved ones who would give her perspective. Unfortunately, the secret nature of the club has a darker side, and Amelia's instinct to walk away is outweighed by the consequences of that action.
The intensity of life within the sphere of Reconstructing Amelia makes seemingly ludicrous actions seem entirely warranted. The whole idea of a "mean girls" storyline could easily be cliché, except McCreight carefully crafts it into so much more. These are not just teens playing with the power of popularity. Instead, the manipulation in the school, Kate's office, the clubs, and the culture in general allows morality to be threatened, and good intentions to be cast away. Every individual can identify with the pressure to succeed. What most people do not take into account is how much damage their success will cause, and just how much it will taint everything they have worked for. There is no happy ending for Amelia. She is lost in the vengeful world she had no desire to take part in. Individual ambition is admirable to a point, but allowing greed and vanity to compromise ambition into something unrecognizable will lead to a path of infamy instead of success.
If you would change your life to be close to the one you love, read Reconstructing Amelia.
McCreight, Kimberly. Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel. HarperCollins, 2013. Kindle Edition.