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Bonnie Read a Book Today

Reader, writer, cat tamer, and Tiny Communist.

Currently reading

His Dark Materials
Philip Pullman
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief
Lawrence Wright

Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia - Kimberly McCreight Maybe I just didn't get it, but this book was actively painful to read. Virtually every aspect of it rang false, from Kate's driven perfectionism--except she's always late because that's how lawyers succeed?--to the semi-random way she accepts the official line that Amelia killed herself. Given that Kate and Amelia have standing Friday night dates, Sunday afternoon dates, and weekend field trips (which--how does this jibe with Kate's simultaneous never-home-not-enough-time-working-mother guilt?), and talk about everything (except minor matters like who Amelia's father is), it's clear that Kate knows her daughter better than anyone else.

*********ANGRY SPOILERS AHOY**********

Yet she needs her boss asking her, WEEKS later, if she's sure it was suicide to actually think about it. And her response? "Um--I--well--the police said..." Because that 9 day investigation of dead Amelia is so much more informative than Kate's 15 years experience with the live version? No. Just no. She makes her first reasonable step in seeking help from the detective on the case, but he's insistent on suicide to the point of mocking Kate based on what the ME said. Again, no. The ME can determine that she died from the fall, wasn't drugged, and didn't show signs of a struggle. That in no way rules out accident or, you know, what actually freaking happened. Maybe the author doesn't know that but any basic research would have turned it up.

Halfway through I was reduced to skimming in frustration, hoping something interesting or mysterious would happen. Instead it was just Kate over-explaining stuff followed by some texts and FB posts, and then Amelia herself over-explaining her part. That's the weirdest and, for me, most objectionable part of this whole bait and switch of a novel. It's billed as the mother of a suddenly dead child trying to construct the last few weeks of that child's life to better understand what happened to her. But the novel you get is a bloated redundancy where the mother finds some clues and vents her spleen while the reader is treated to the daughter's POV all along. Even her death isn't "reconstructed"--the reader gets to watch it through Amelia's eyes.

Personally I think the book got so much attention for being "hip" enough to include plenty of FaceBook references, as well as focusing almost entirely on the characters' sex lives, and making a considerable number of them gay. While I applaud including more LGBTQ characters in YA novels, they, and the readers, deserve a better one.

(Full disclosure: I lost a close, well-loved young cousin in a vaguely similar disputed fall scenario, which is probably why this book's crap treatment of the subject affects me so deeply. Also why I feel entitled to call bullshit on every aspect of the police investigation and the mother's reaction.)