Book Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight #bookreview #reconstructingamelia

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

4/5 stars

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kimberlymccreight.com

This book was a mystery, thriller, horrifying/intriguing-for-mothers read. Kate is a single mom of Amelia, an excellent student at a Park Slope area private high school. But early into the book, Amelia is found dead at her school, an apparent “impulsive suicide.”

This would all make perfect sense if Amelia had shown any signs of suicidal behavior, but she didn’t. That fact, along with the anonymous texts Kate receives after Amelia’s death lead her to believe that Amelia didn’t kill herself but rather was murdered. Using all of her extensive resources (Kate is a high-powered attorney), Kate attempts to unravel the mystery behind the daughter she thought she knew so well.

Reconstructing Amelia is composed of prose, emails, texts and blogs. There’s the usual cast of mean girls, tough cops, and Stepford wives. As a mom, it was a challenging read. Amelia is Kate’s only child, and as a single working woman, it seems like Kate is no longer a mother without her beloved daughter.

It’s definitely in the realm of murder mystery. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who was behind the anonymous emails, who was “in charge” of the secret group to which Amelia secretly belonged, why certain characters behaved the way they did — even who was really Amelia’s birth dad.

Although it’s not my usual genre, I recommend it. However, if you’re looking for a better psychological mystery, I recommend Before I Go to Sleep and Defending Jacob.

Blogger Response to Tragedy

I think it’s natural for us “navel gazers” aka mommybloggers to want to respond to controversies, especially regarding news that pertains to families.

After Duchess Catherine went to a hospital with hyperemesis gravidum, I wrote a blog (unpublished) about my experience with hg that basically said, I had it with Animal and Mineral, it totally sucked, I was miserable, I threw up in every bathroom in the city I lived in, being awake was horrible, I spent a lot of time in the ER getting fluids and I burst all the blood vessels around my eyes. Ew.

If she goes on bedrest, I can address my experience with that too (a mixture of relaxingly enjoyable and boring, although I think nowadays with e-readers, Netflix, Hulu, more availability of laptops, it might be more fun, less boring. I am grateful I didn’t have other kids to worry about, which would have made it stressful.)

A lot of mommy bloggers have referenced the recent tragedy involving children.

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On one hand, I’m thinking about it — a lot — and on the other, I have nothing to say. What can I say? It was a tragedy, it makes me feel sad and ill (and given my political beliefs, angry) and confused, I question the world; and God or Goddess or Universe. It’s nothing new. My point of view isn’t unique.

I’m a little wary of mommybloggers who are capitalizing (for lack of a better word, I don’t think that’s the right word) on it.

Or making it about them and their experience.

I honor (respect), every family who has lost a child.

I empathize with families who have mental illness among their family members.

I hope I never have to experience any part of a tragedy myself. I further hope that nobody I care about or even know personally goes through anything horrible. (That’s probably too much to hope for.)

And while tragedy is tragedy is tragedy, each person affected is going through their own experience. I can’t bring anything to the table except, I’m sorry.

November Gratitude

You know how everyone is doing that daily gratitude thing on Facebook? Not everyone but a lot of people. I see it and think it would be nice, but I need to save my Facebook statuses for important things like crowd-sourcing Wii games and complaining about the weather.

Here goes a few things I’m grateful for

1. Cousin It is potty learning and it’s not so bad. (With a mom who spends a lot of time on the toilet, plus older sibs around, it stands to reason that she’d pick up on it quickly.)

2. My Chemical Romance is giving me a lot of time to work on NaNo. I’m almost done! He tries his best to keep the kids away from me when I’m typing.

3. Healthcare. I’m not trying to be political, but in the last few weeks I’ve had some health challenges that make me grateful I can walk into an Urgent Care (sciatica), take Mineral to see his doctors and pick up rx all the while knowing that it’s going to cost a fortune but insurance will pay for some of it. And the rest is stuff I can pay $10/mo on for 578942 months.

4. Housing issues are improving. While our renter can’t afford an increase in rent, our rental agency is taking a decrease in their cut of the rent. Also, our mortgage company is considering our plea for financial assistance.

5. I’ve got some Cmas presents for the kids already. Thanks to Craigslist, I have gifts for Animal, Mineral and My Masterpiece. I’ve got some ideas for The Informant and Cousin It. Also, the kids know that the holidays are going to be, uh, MILD this year.

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Where I Buy

This month marks five years of boycotting Wal M@rt. We boycott because of the way they treat their employees, their dependence on Chinese manufacturing plants and environmental hazards that they cover up.

And yet.

And yet, they give large donations to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

And yet, as they buy/sell more organic and free range, organic and free-range food becomes more visible to consumers, and hopefully the demand will increase.

20121019-080940.jpgWe want organic!

And yet I shop at their competitors weekly, and I don’t think they’re much better.

Le sigh.

This is a first-world problem, but it’s a problem nonetheless. I prefer to support smaller family-owned organizations — yet with a family of seven, those can be outside my budget. (Actually, EVERYTHING is outside my budget. We’re trying to stay afloat until My Chemical Romance gets a bonus next year. It’s difficult and stressful.)

20121019-080440.jpgI’ve been working a lot lately.

I want to boycott huge conglomerates altogether, but that’s impossible, so instead I do the best I can and feel guilty about the rest.

What I do

1. Partake in a CSA/co-op with all local produce and meat. Buy everything I can at Trader Joe’s, where the prices are reasonable. Reserve Whole Foods for niche items I can’t find elsewhere (like Fage full-fat yogurt omgitssogood).
2. Get clothes at resale/goodwill
3. Buy kids toys from Craigslist. Some may be plastic, but at least they’re already-used plastic, and, given my family, they’ll continue to be used for a while.
4. Buy wooden and local toys where possible

20121019-080741.jpgWooden toy!

At the fair this week I bought some Christmas presents from a local wood maker. I also bought myself a DO-NOTHING. I’m going to use it as a stress-relief thing, and maybe I can relax a little.

The Seabreeze Series by Abbi Glines: Marry, Screw, Kill

Quick summaries:

Breathe
Teenage girl with very irresponsible mother works as a domestic in a rockstar’s summer home in Seabreeze, Alabama. (I suppose it’s somewhat believable that a rockstar would want a summer home in the middle of nowhere, right? The paparazzi wouldn’t know where to find him.) Love ensues.

Because of Low
Side character from Breathe — guy who was interested in domestic girl but she MISTAKENLY chose the rockstar over him — gets his own story. Moves in with a player while his parents are divorcing. Meets player’s BFF, who happens to be a hot girl. Love ensues.

While It Lasts
Player from Because of Low gets his own story. After a DUI, he gets sent to work at a ranch where there’s a hot, grieving (because her fiancé died in Baghdad) farmer’s daughter. Love (and sex! Hot sex!) ensue.

Further discussion via the “Marry, Screw, Kill” game based on this series —

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Why you should MARRY Breathe
It’s sweet, romantic, charming, rich and a fantastical story.

Why you should SCREW Breathe
You shouldn’t. She’s only in high school, for heaven’s sake! Perv!

Why you should KILL Breathe
Because the characters are aliens from the planet of never-using-a-contraction when they think, speak or act. Obviously these intruders need to be removed from society so we can all continue to speak in LOLCAT form.

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Why you should MARRY Because of Low
Because there’s a rich father slash husband slash adulterous boyfriend who owns a Mercedes dealership and will probably get you a great car and you can move from Seabreeze, AL, to the booming metropolis of Mobile, AL.

Why you should SCREW Because of Low
You shouldn’t. You could end up related to your girlfriend’s niece and that would be quite awkward at family dinners.

Why you should KILL Because of Low
Because it is the single worst-edited book in the history of the world (yes, I’m including 50 Shades in this list, and the Ben-Hur-esque nightmare that is Love, Unscripted). This was clearly author Abbi Glines nod toward experimental novel writing where “experimental” means “not using any commas; punctuating badly; and changing tenses constantly.”

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Why you should MARRY While It Lasts
You shouldn’t. It’s either a player with a very wild sexual history, an innocent farmer’s daughter whose daddy knows how to use a gun, or another casualty in the “war on terror.”

Why you should SCREW While It Lasts
Because. It’s. Hot.

Why you should KILL While It Lasts
You shouldn’t. Hasn’t there been enough grief already in this novel? Eva’s mom AND her fiancé are dead. Cage has no family.

Final decision

MARRY: Breathe
SCREW: While It Lasts***
KILL: Because of Low

*** While It Lasts has replaced Easy by Tammara Webber, as my favorite “mature” YA fiction.

August’s Donation: Ipas

Oops, I was late again to donate my $9 on the 9th of the month. Maybe I should just make it $10 on the 15th (which is when we receive our rent check from our house in Charlotte).

This month, after all the brouhaha with “Raperesentative” Todd Akin, I decided to donate to Ipas.

Ipas is an organization that helps prevent maternal mortality from abortions. We fight, in this country, a lot about abortion access, but there are many countries where abortion isn’t legal at all, or is highly restricted. Abortion is extremely restricted in most of Africa and South America, as well as the Middle East and some parts of Asia.

I personally choose to use birth control and not have an abortion — but that is my PRIVILEGE, and it’s a privilege that many women do not have. Even in countries where abortion is legal when a mother’s life is in danger, sometimes women are unable to obtain abortions — and the mother dies. Just this week a teenager in the Dominican Republic died after being denied chemotherapy because she was pregnant. Her life was in danger, and still doctors would not perform an abortion.

Ipas works to improve women’s access and right to safe, high-quality abortion care and reproductive health services. 

I support that, so I gave them $11 this month.

 

My Favorite Legitimate Rape Comments

On Sunday, while you were sleeping in or going to church or working, Missouri senate hopeful and current Representative Todd Akin (R — because, duh, no self-respecting D would ever even think this) made the following comment when asked about his militant anti-abortion stance. He was asked about cases of pregnancy after rape:

First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

I really lack the vocabulary to respond to this without resorting to gutteral language, and that would be extremely unfeminine of me. (Although I do want to respond to his phrase, that whole thing. It really irks me. Does he fear offending the delicate sensibilities of his constituents? He could have said “the female body has ways of preventing pregnancy” — false, of course — but instead he went with that extremely bizarre and almost childish phrase.)

Also, his apology went like this

In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.

Empathy? Again with the words, Todd Akin. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, sayeth Google. You do not understand being raped. You do not understand women who have been raped. Just, no.

But! Wait! While I am rendered speechless, the internet has some great responses, including the following:

And of course, twitter is abuzz with clever 140-character responses. #legitimaterape trended for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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