Amelia Baron has thrown herself from her high school’s roof after she was caught plagiarizing a paper on Virginia Woolf…or so it seems. The problem is that Amelia is obsessed with Woolf in a way that only a hyperintelligent 15-year-old girl can be. And her workaholic single mom, Kate — a brilliant attorney — has received an anonymous text that reads: ”Amelia didn’t jump.”
And off we go into this year’s Gone Girl — you remember Gillian Flynn’s best-selling nail-biter of 2012 — which is set against the backdrop of Grace Hall, a prep school in the tony Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope. Like Gone Girl, Reconstructing Amelia seamlessly marries a crime story with a relationship drama. And like Gone Girl, it should be hailed as one of the best books of the year.
Amelia and Kate take turns narrating chapters that reveal the truth behind their ostensible Gilmore Girls life. Amelia is tapped for one of Grace Hall’s secret societies, falls in love for the first time, and has a Manti Te’o-type correspondence with a gay boy named Ben. None of which she tells her mom. Meanwhile, Kate, who has deep guilt over Amelia’s paternity, copes with her daughter’s ”suicide” by going all CSI on Amelia’s texts and emails, as well as a hateful school blog called gRaCeFULLY.
To reveal more would require a spoiler alert the size of a Jumbotron. But in her debut novel, Kimberly McCreight spins a riveting narrative that somehow delivers thoughtful commentary on working-mom guilt, bullying, police corruption, and Gossip Girl. Every single twist in Reconstructing Amelia is clever, and rightfully earned. As that righteous babe Virginia Woolf once said, ”Fiction is like a spider’s web.” McCreight is a masterful weaver. A