When Kate, single mother and law firm partner, gets an urgent phone call summoning her to her daughter's exclusive private school, she's shocked. Amelia has been suspended for cheating, something that would be completely out of character for her over-achieving, well-behaved daughter.
Kate rushes to Grace Hall, but what she finds when she finally arrives is beyond comprehension. Her daughter is dead.
Despondent over having been caught cheating, Amelia has jumped from the school's roof in an act of impulsive suicide. At least that's the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. In a state of shock and overcome by grief, Kate tries to come to grips with this life-shattering news. Then she gets an anonymous text: Amelia didn't jump.
The moment she sees that message, Kate knows in her heart it's true. Clearly Amelia had secrets, and a life Kate knew nothing about. Wracked by guilt, Kate is determined to find out what those secrets were and who could have hated her daughter enough to kill. She searches through Amelia's emails, texts, and Facebook updates, piecing together the last troubled days of her daughter's life.
Reconstructing Amelia is a stunning debut pause-resistor that brilliantly explores the secret world of teenagers, their clandestine first loves, hidden friendships, and the dangerous cruelty that can spill over into acts of terrible betrayal.
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This would have been a better book if the characters were more realistic. This isn't a book with characters as much as it is one with goofy caricatures of rich people.
Kind, sporty, rich, unique, humble, beautiful, incredibly smart Amelia and her incredibly ambitious yet kind-hearted, gentle but tough, beautiful, successful single mother Kate act as the foil to pretty much every other character in the book. Besides Amelia and Kate, every character is portrayed as being so wildly and obviously unlikeable that the ensuing melodrama is predictable and boring. Even Amelia's "likable" best friend is vicious, selfish, vengeful, manipulative, crude, and petty.
For example, dialogue between Amelia and her best friend Sylvia usually seesaws between Sylvia saying something impossibly rude (about Amelia not having a father/Amelia being a virgin/Amelia being smart/Amelia's mom working long hours) and then Amelia apologizing.The relationships between the characters make no sense. Even the relationship between Amelia and Kate is confusing and unrealistic.
A good mystery should allow for some mystery. By blatantly pushing for sympathy toward Amelia/Kate and disdain toward Gretchen/Zady/Zady's mom/Zady's dad/Sylvia/Magpies in general/school administrators/Ms Pearl/the first detective/boys in general/adolescents in general/etc, "Reconstructing Amelia" really allows for no imagination or thought.
The only mercy in this book is that Amelia dies. Unfortunately, it is a slow death (about 12 hours and 15 minutes).