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Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight – a review

I downloaded this on a whim whilst in a pub trying to avoid football, and it certainly beat watching sport. Reconstructing Amelia is Kimberley McCreights debut novel. The story centres on single mother Kate and her daughter Amelia, a pupil at the expensive Grace Hall school. Kate is called to the school as Amelia has been suspended for cheating. By the time Kate arrives Amelia is dead, seemingly having jumped from the roof. However a few days later Kate receives a text which suggests that Amelia did not kill herself. Kate soon starts to realise that she didn’t know her teenage daughter as well as she thought.
The story is told through a variety of viewpoints, including both Kate and Amelia. The story flits between flashback scenes depicting Kate’s life before Amelia, and her search to find out the truth about what happened to her daughter. As well as the more standard narrative of the characters, we also get to read emails, social media pages and text messages, all of which begin to throw light on the true life that Amelia was leading.
amelia I thought this novel was excellent. It was a quick read that was helped along by the use of different media. Reading text messages and email conversations gave quite an intimate feel to the book, and meant that the swopping from character to character was actually alot clearer than it can sometimes be in books using multiple viewpoints.
Reconstructing Amelia was quite a disturbing read that made a nice change from the usual detective fiction I favour. Its main theme of school bullying was particularly unsettling and made more so by the use of social media. It shows just how horrid teenagers can be and was a good depiction of the downside of today’s technology obsessed generation. Whilst to a normal adult it would seem easy to just turn off a phone if being sent anonymous texts, or to cancel their facebook account if getting abuse, to a teenager this would be unthinkable. It means that school bullying is no longer confined to the playground, it enters a child’s home and follows them everywhere.
This book is also about family, and the relationship between mother and daughter. Whilst the mother thinks she is working to support her daughter and that they are close, all the daughter really wants is the time to talk. I felt that despite knowing the outcome of the story right at the very beginning you were rooting for both the characters. Although at times I wanted to scream at them both ‘just talk’. The use of some of the language was a bit annoying in parts, but I think that is more of a personal issue as I am highly irritated by the over- and incorrect use of the word ‘like’. Its not always like something, it often just is or isn’t, but I’m aware that is unfortunately how a lot of teenagers seem to talk now.
Although it’s an adult book, I would suggest that it would make a great teenage read too. Throughly recommend this to anyone and it certainly made a welcome distraction from the football.

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