A stunning debut novel in which a single mother reconstructs her teenaged daughter’s life, sifting through her emails, texts, and social media to piece together the shocking truth about the last days of her life.
Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is stunned when her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn, calls with disturbing news: her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating.
Kate can’t believe that Amelia, an ambitious, levelheaded girl who’s never been in trouble would do something like that. But by the time she arrives at Grace Hall, Kate’s faced with far more devastating news. Amelia is dead.
Seemingly unable to cope with what she’d done, a despondent Amelia has jumped from the school’s roof in an act of “spontaneous” suicide. At least that’s the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. And overwhelmed as she is by her own guilt and shattered by grief, it is the story that Kate believes until she gets the anonymous text:
She didn’t jump.
Sifting through Amelia’s emails, text messages, social media postings, and cell phone logs, Kate is determined to learn the heartbreaking truth about why Amelia was on Grace Hall’s roof that day-and why she died.
Told in alternating voices, Reconstructing Amelia is a story of secrets and lies, of love and betrayal, of trusted friends and vicious bullies. It’s about how well a parent ever really knows a child and how far one mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she could not save.
My Take: This book reminded me of a mix of Jodi Picoult with whomever wrote Gossip Girl. It kept my attention and made me think a lot about mother/daughter relationships (with the possibility of a daughter entering my life any day now!), but I can’t say it was a gripping or fantastic read. I honestly think it is more suited for YA.
GoodReads Summary: A shockingly original thriller – the launch title of Zaffre, the new fiction imprint of Bonnier Publishing Fiction
Judith Rashleigh works as an assistant in a prestigious London auction house, but her dreams of breaking into the art world have been gradually dulled by the blunt forces of snobbery and corruption. To make ends meet she moonlights as a hostess in one of the West End’s less salubrious bars – although her work there pales against her activities on nights off.
When Judith stumbles across a conspiracy at her auction house, she is fired before she can expose the fraud. In desperation, she accepts an offer from one of the bar’s clients to accompany him to the French Riviera. But when an ill-advised attempt to slip him sedatives has momentous consequences, Judith finds herself fleeing for her life.
Now alone and in danger, all Judith has to rely on is her consummate ability to fake it amongst the rich and famous – and the inside track on the hugely lucrative art fraud that triggered her dismissal.
Set in the exotic palaces and yachts of Europe’s seriously wealthy. With a heroine as wickedly perceptive as Amy Dunne and as dangerous as Lisbeth Salander, this marks the beginning of a sequence of novels that will have readers around the world on the edge of their seats and holding their breath.
My Take: We read this one for book club, and while it had the makings of a thrilling, sexy read, it fell flat for me. For one, I could not connect with the main character (doubt anyone could, but her characterization felt weak to me). Secondly, the “erotica” aspects of the book became truly cringe-worthy and did not seem to have a point or connection to the overall narrative. The incorporation of the inner workings of the art world would have been interesting, but the writing did not do that aspect justice. Not a fave.. but apparently it is going to be a movie and a trilogy, so someone must really like it.