Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reconstructing Amelia

My activity today (besides work, and all the regular stuff) was going to the library to return Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

The book was compelling, I'll give it that. I could barely put it down. It starts with a mother getting the terrible news that her daughter has committed suicide at school. She is consumed with guilt and grief, but then starts to question whether Amelia really killed herself or not.

She begins searching for answers and reconstructs Amelia's last few months of school through texts, the school gossip rag, notes, and emails. A much different Amelia than the one she knew starts to emerge and she begins to question how well she knew her daughter after all.

As a writer, I couldn't help but pay attention to the structure of this book. I don't mind books that use different formats to show us a character, or tell us a story. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society was an excellent example of this approach. It worked well in Reconstructing Amelia, too -- to a point.

The plot was full of twists and the writing was paced well. As I said, I could hardly put it down. My one criticism would be the chapters that were told from Amelia's point-of-view. While it was helpful to have her first-person account of things that were going on, it also created some confusion in the very non-linear structure. We got present day emails, then backtracking to Amelia's telling of her story, then texts, then her mother's perspective. I'm not a fan of this approach, but McCreight pulled it off well enough that I could piece it together. But I can't help but wonder how different our reconstruction of Amelia would have been if we didn't have her to fill in the blanks?

I'll definitely look for more by Kimberly McCreight in the future. Meanwhile, I took this book back to the library and had the hardest time figuring out what to read next. Good books always do that to me.

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