Rummanah Aasi
  I don't read legal thrillers very often but the premise of Reconstructing Amelia caught my eye. The idea of reconstructing an identity works well in the novel and on many layers. The question of how well do we really know a person is once again asked and the answer is not always clear.

Description: When Kate, single mother and law firm partner, gets a phone call summoning her to her daughter's exclusive private school, she's shocked. Amelia has been suspended for cheating, completely out of character for her over-achieving, well-behaved daughter. Kate rushes to Grace Hall to pick up Amelia, but what she finds when she arrives is beyond comprehension. Amelia has jumped from the school's roof in an act of impulsive suicide. At least that's the story Kate believes until she gets an anonymous text: Amelia didn't jump.
  Determined to learn the truth about what really happened on that roof, Kate searches through Amelia's e-mails, texts, and Facebook updates, piecing together the last troubled days of her daughter's life.


Review: Reconstructing Amelia is a multi-layered legal thriller/mystery that works quite well despite some flaws. Kate Baron is a single mom who is trying to overcompensate a one night stand that led to the bird of her daughter, Amelia, by becoming a workaholic associate at a high-powered New York City law firm. Amelia doesn't know who her father is, and Kate, for some reason that never really becomes clear, fails to share this information with her. I got conflicting impressions about the Kate's refusal to tell Amelia the truth: a) she is ashamed who the father is due to his social class since Kate comes from an affluent family or b) She simply doesn't know the identity of Amelia's father. I really wish the author made this clear.
  While curious about her dad's identity, Amelia has other, more pressing issues about which to worry. For one thing, she has been tapped for membership in her ritzy private school's illicit all-girls club (think Mean Girls on steroids), a fact she's hiding from her best friend, Sylvia, as well as her mother. The club hazes their inductees by having them do horrible things such as posing in next-to-nothing close for a porn site. As the "dares" get worse and worse, Amelia wants to drop out but can't since the club will blackmail her and she has developed feelings toward one of the club's members. Amelia keeps these hidden away from Kate though inside she wishes Kate would pick up on the signals of Amelia's distress and out of character behavior. 
  Amelia's distress signals come to a head when Kate receives a call from the school that she must leave a meeting and come pick up her daughter because Amelia has been suspended for cheating, Kate's world completely crumbles. Running late to collect her daughter, Kate doesn't arrive until pretty, smart, blonde Amelia has fallen from the school roof, a victim of her own failure. Everyone including the high profile police detective believes Amelia committed suicide due to pressure and depression, but Kate knows her daughter and she doesn't believe Amelia killed herself. When she receives an anonymous text message, it prompts her to prove that Amelia was murdered. 
  I really liked how the author structured her book, telling her story in flashbacks, alternating between Kate's and Amelia's point of view, leading up to the day Amelia died. This allowed the reader to conjure up two versions of both characters, one through the eyes of secondary characters and who Kate and Amelia are "suppose to be" and a second with the actual flawed versions of our two protagonists. Although the expensive and exclusive school comes across as an over-the-top sorority  it does manage to address the issues surrounding teens today particularly with the sensitive issue of bullying. The author also makes good use of adding social media such as Facebook posts, email, and text messages to break up the prose and give Amelia an authentic teen voice. The suspense doesn't drag and the pages go by quickly and comes to a seamless and unanticipated conclusion. There are moments, however, that you have to suspend your disbelief but otherwise Reconstructing Amelia is a solid read.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, underage drinking, and some sexual situations. Recommended for teens and adults.

If you like this book try: Swimming at Night by Lucy Clarke, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
7 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Ooooo this sounds good Rummanah! My sister in law is a huge thriller/mystery fan, so I'm definitely going to recommend this one to her. I can't even imagine going through what Kate goes through, arriving too late to save her daughter. *shudders* Thanks for the recommendation!!!


  2. This sounds like a riveting, thrilling read! The synopsis alone has me on edge, and your review has convinced me I should definitely read this one. Normally flashbacks don't sit well with me, but it sounds like they work well here, and it will be interesting to see the two versions of Amelia and Kate come together in the end. Glad to hear the author gave Amelia an authentic teen voice too, that's difficult to get right. Wonderful review!


  3. I have this for review and of course it is languishing in the old pile. It sounds like a good solid little thriller and I want to see how she takes on bullying. I will dig it out soon.


  4. I love that we get to see both how the characters see each other and how they see themselves. I hate stories about mothers losing their children, it's something I avoid, but this seems to be well written and I do enjoy stepping out of my comfort zone every once in a while.
    Thank you for the lovely review!


  5. I don't read too many thrillers but I like that this one has both Amelia and Kate's POVs. I love it when a book has multiple narrators as long as the characters' voices remain distinct.


  6. I am not a fan of legal thrillers - ironic since I'm a lawyer. But this sounds very interesting. The high powered NY attorney is always interesting and I love the private school aspect too.


  7. Anonymous Says:

    I too am not usually a fan of legal thrillers (I'm also a lawyer)- but I really enjoyed this book. Def worth reading or listening to on Audible.


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