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“Sometimes it’s hard to tell how fast the current’s moving until you’re headed over a waterfall”
― Kimberly McCreight, Reconstructing Amelia
I picked this book after I saw that it made it to the ‘Goodreads Choice of Mystery and Thriller’. But come on people, you can’t be this misleading! Definitely not one of the classy, mystery thrillers of recent times, this book still manages to keep you occupied till the end.
Kate Baron, a single mother and litigation lawyer at one of New York’s best firms, receives a call from her daughter’s school saying that her daughter was caught cheating in school and she needed to come talk to the principal immediately. A stunned Kate proceeds down to her daughter’s school wondering why her daughter Amelia – an exemplary, smart, straight A student – would do something like that. Convinced that it must be a mistake, she rushes to school to meet her daughter only to find out that her daughter has committed suicide. Inconsolable and bewildered by her daughter, who she thought would never have sought to such extremes, Kate starts digging into her daughter’s life – her mails, texts, books etc. and tries to figure out what actually happened in the last days of her daughter’s life.
The characters are well developed and definitive and this is done at perfect pace with the plot development. Kate Baron’s character of an independent, self-reliant woman and a single mother with a past she wants to forget, is likable. The main character, Amelia’s portrayal, made me feel a bit skeptical though. In spite of a clear view into Amelia’s supposedly strong, mature and able mind, I failed to understand her choices in friends as well as other decisions. Zadie Goodwin, the vicious school bully’s character, has been developed to make the readers hate her, but some of the things she does seems too unforgiving for a high-schooler. It made me wonder whether I was too naive about American school culture, or whether the author is exaggerating far too much!
For a debutante author, Kimberley is surprisingly good with flairs similar to that of accomplished mystery writers like Mary Higgins Clark and James Patterson. The book has been structured into a series of chapters consisting of Amelia’s and Kate’s narration, Amelia’s chats/texts, Kate’s mails/journal entries. The interesting thing about this structuring is that after the end of one round of each of these, you are left with a clue or intriguing details leading to Amelia’s death that keeps you guessing till the very end of the book. The author’s language is fluent and smooth and filled with the necessary cliffhangers that any good mystery requires. The story is gripping and makes the book unputdownable after the first 100 pages. Although the plot seems to have been built well, I felt something amiss in the end. The plot had quite a lot of twists and some of them were unnecessary as well as not answered like Ms. Liv’s involvement in the whole affair. Also the depiction of the mother-daughter relationship seems a little too clichéd and you kind of get the feeling of “We get it! You don’t have to elaborate in every chapter!” after some 200 pages.
Nevertheless, besides all its flaws, the book did manage to completely engross me. I just couldn’t resist putting down the book to do my other work. And that, in a thriller, is all you need! So, those in search for a quick, mild suspense read, grab this book and read on!