Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

A Mother's Resilience for Answers

People will say that the greatest loss one can experience is that of their own child. It’s just not the way the cycle works. Burying a parent is part of the process, unfortunately, but the death of your child is one I am sure is much different than any other. Add in the loss of a child to a mysterious/tragic condition, and I can’t quite fathom how one processes it for any type of healing.

But imagine losing a child to what you are told is suicide, only to get a text a few days later that says, “Amelia didn’t jump…”

In Kimberly McCreight’s New York Times Bestseller Reconstructing Amelia, published in 2013, we get to see a first-hand account of a woman who finds herself in such ill-fated circumstances. It is a mean-girls thrilling tale that does not let you down in its psychological twists and turns.

I enjoy reading books that bring forth many themes, especially those that resonate with the average woman. McCreight introduces us to Kate Baron, an attorney and single mother who works hard to maintain a life for her and her daughter. Then, you have Amelia, a 15-year-old girl who is trying to navigate her way through high school and her teenage years.

McCreight’s use of multiple points of view throughout the novel is clever, to say the least. We see past and present, and the stories collide with cliffhangers and clues in every chapter. To me, it was a Gone Girl meets Gossip Girl in all the ways it needed to be. The characters were real enough to feel emotionally tied to, wanting to know how things turn out for them.

There were moments I cried for both Kate and Amelia, wanting to wrap them in a hug and let them know things would be okay. There were instances I wanted to yell, give a pep-talk to the characters to tell them to take a different course.

I felt for Amelia, and it brought me back to the tough transition through my teenage years. The pressure to be who I thought was “likeable,” the idea that I had to partake in certain things for social relevance, the fears that I would succumb to the pressures of peers. McCreight uses Amelia’s voice to be raw and honest about the dangers young people face and the consequences of their actions.

But it was for Kate, that I latched onto and wanted to buy a drink for when the book was done. On top of relating to the single mother who would kill for her baby, her resilience and levelheadedness portrayed was so admirable. I was inspired by her strength. Though that may be strange to say about a fictional character, it just goes to show how well McCreight constructed this tale.

It’s not a lighthearted read. The content of struggling with loss, and the sensitivity behind finding out what really happened to Amelia is not easy to get through at times- but as a mother, it was a hell of a learning experience. This concept that as much as we think we know things about our children, can end up showing us just how much we don’t know too. Plus, it just gave me another chance to be grateful for the baby girl who was sleeping next to me at the time.

I will say, however, that it was an easy read in terms of how fast I got through it. Aside from the fact that it was a page-turner, McCreight wastes no time with fancy writing and just tells it like it is throughout. It flowed well, and I found no time for a slump in reading when there was so much happening- though not in a confusing way.

Some may say the ending of this book was predictable, and I guess in some senses maybe it was. But I don’t think McCreight’s goal was solely to put forth a suspenseful novel with a wild climax. It is clear that she had a purpose to not only use this book to speak on teen pressures and to spotlight the mean-girls we need to put an end to, but also to display a devotion for a child. The bond between mother and daughter was clear throughout, even after Amelia’s death is discovered. There were so many other fantastic elements that it didn’t really matter if it seemed a bit cliché. To me, it didn’t. I loved it from beginning to end.

Even after reading McCreight’s story I find it hard to even try to put myself in a woman like Kate Baron’s shoes, but I am grateful for the chance to sit in the front seat with her for a while. I think this is a story for mothers as well as for teenage women. There are important themes discussed that goes beyond a wickedly entertaining story.

You can purchase Kimberly McCreight’s book Reconstructing Amelia here.

-Christine Weimer, @beacolorfulyou

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