A smart, motivated, well liked high school good girl (Amelia) jumps or is pushed from the roof of her private school. Her single mom (Kate), a high powered attorney who’s extremely insecure about being a single mom, starts nosing around Amelia’s life to try to understand what happened. She’s totally bewildered and never saw it coming at all, and some circumstances surrounding her death don’t make sense (mainly that she jumped/was pushed immediately after being accused of plagiarizing a paper, which such a smart motivated well liked blah blah girl would never do). Not surprisingly, she immediately discovers that she knew way less than she thought she did about her daughter’s life.
I really didn’t enjoy this book. The characters felt one dimensional and annoying, the mystery just was not that interesting, and the end had so many weird last minute plot twists that it was just stupid. However, what really irritated me was that this book could not have existed without three major plot devices.
From least to most nonsensical:
- It’s kind of a given that Amelia has some big secret. It’s not a major spoiler if I say that given the context and circumstances of her life, this secret was just…not that big of a deal. Not to say that people don’t get murdered or commit suicide every day over things that from the outside seemed like no big deal, but McCreight just awkwardly shoehorned in explanations for why this was even a secret, and they were all stupid. She needed to talk to her mom about this thing. She and her mom had a great relationship. Even she knew that her mom would be super supportive. And yet. So many stupid, contrived and yets.
- Fairly early on, Kate has a big ol’ stack of printed out Facebook messages to read, and all of Amelia’s jam-packed phone. (Two asides about this: she has her work’s IT guy print out all of this. That…maybe isn’t in his job description? Apparently it isn’t weird to her, but it was kinda weird to me. Secondly, why exactly would you print out all this stuff? That’s…also weird. Like what if you read something and want to view the profile of whoever posted it? No? Okay.) She reads this stuff slooooo o o o w ly. Like one conversation per chapter slowly. Why? Because it’s so hard. She can’t handle it all at once! Yet she is dedicating every waking minute of her life chasing down answers, plenty of which she could’ve just found in the damn messages, so it’s not like she’s trying to keep her mind off things. I don’t buy that she’d postpone reading them.
- 75% of the big dramatic confrontations would never have happened if the cop investigating hadn’t decided to take her along on all the interviews apropos of nothing. Even when she was a total loose cannon, assaulting people and compromising the investigation. Or, I mean, ever. What?! I could not let this go. It is never explained why her going along is even remotely an option. It just…is.
In reality, this is how this would have panned out: girl has secret, dies somehow. Mom wonders wtf happened, reads her texts/messages/etc., discovers a bunch of stuff, brings it all to the attention of the police. Police investigate, and let her know what happened. Ugh. 2 stars.
As discussed here, I am going to be adding a content warning at the end of my reviews so that anyone who wants to be aware of certain content can look for that. I will place it at the end so you can skip it if you’d rather, and place it lower if it could be considered spoilery. If there is anything you’d like me to add to the “Things to Warn About” list, no matter how obscure or irrational, please feel more than free to either leave it in a comment or e-mail me privately at email@example.com, and I will be more than happy to add it.
In this case, it is mildly spoilery (nothing that would ruin the book unless you were very spoiler sensitive), so off with you if you don’t want to see it!
Content warning for Reconstructing Amelia: Brief discussion of abortion, bad stepparents, bullying (heavy, unskippable), child loss (heavy, unskippable), depression, homophobia, one mention of insects, murder (in the maybe/maybe not sense), profanity, self injury, suicide.