Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book Reviews: 'Reconstructing Amelia' by Kimberly McCreight and 'To the Lighthouse' by Virginia Woolf

1. Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight:
I loved this book. And I really wasn't expecting that. It's like Gossip Girl meets Gilmore Girls meets Desperate Housewives. It's also what would happen if Jodi Picoult ever wrote a psychological thriller, because McCreight's writing style reminds me so much of Picoult's. I wouldn't really describe Reconstructing Amelia as a psychological thriller, but it's definitely a thriller of some sort. It follows the story behind Amelia Baron, who dies one day of an apparent suicide from jumping off the roof of her prestigious Brooklyn private school. Her mother Kate soon receives an anonymous text saying only three words, "Amelia didn't jump." This leads into an investigation of who Amelia really was in the months leading up to her death, and what was going on in her devastatingly stressful life. I've never gone to private school, but I feel like this book hits the mark on what it's like to go to one. Nothing is what it seems, and it really just goes to show that sometimes we have to take a closer look, because sometimes people we thought were perfect were doing things we never could have imagined them doing. It's also a little sad, given that Amelia dies in the first chapter and we begin to learn what led her to that point, so you know it's not going to end with a pretty happy ending, but it was still worth reading. Reconstructing Amelia pulled me in from the first page and didn't let me go; I finished it in under a week. McCreight makes excellent use of her characters; literally all of them have a purpose and you quickly find out no one, absolutely no one, can be trusted. Highly recommend. I also need a television movie or miniseries based off of this starring Lauren Graham as Kate. 5/5 stars.

2. To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf:
Have you ever read something that you think is really beautifully written, but you have no idea what the hell it's about? That's what I felt the entire time I was reading To the Lighthouse. It has some lovely passages with poignantly used words, but most of the time, I had no idea what it pertained to in terms of the story. I know it's one of Woolf's most challenging works as well as the most autobiographical of her stories, but I still found it quite difficult to read, despite the beautiful writing. I've already read Woolf's collection of autobiographical writings, Moments of Being, so I could see which fictional characters in To the Lighthouse could have been based off of real people. However, I'm glad I read it and I might revisit it sometime in the future to see if I can understand it better. A teacher also recommended Mrs. Dalloway to me and said it was better than To the Lighthouse, so I think I'll read that first. (I also read To the Lighthouse now because Woolf was Amelia's favorite author in Reconstructing Amelia). 3/5 stars.

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