Author: Kimberly McCreight , 2013.
Genre: Psychological Thriller. Contemporary. Coming of Age.
Other Details: Paperback. 388 pages.
Kate Baron is a single mother with a demanding career as a junior partner in a prestigious law firm. An important meeting is interrupted by a call from St. Grace, the exclusive prep school that her 15-year old daughter Amelia attends. Karen is shocked to hear that her daughter has been suspended for cheating on an English paper. She makes her way across town to collect Amelia though delays mean that she arrives over an hour late to find the police and ambulances outside the school. In horror she discovers that her daughter is dead; that she jumped off the roof in what appears to be an act of spontaneous suicide. Kate naturally is plunged into deep grief unable to accept that her daughter would kill herself. However, when she receives an anonymous text claiming that Amelia did not jump she begins to investigate her daughter's life via her texts and on-line life and uncovers disturbing truths.
First of all my thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing me a copy of the paperback to review. I discovered very quickly that this was one of those novels that proved almost impossible to put down as Kate seeks to understand the circumstances of her daughter's death and come to terms with her grief. The narrative moves between this investigation and Amelia's own account of the weeks preceding her death. This way of telling the story was very clever as revealing the events in this way highlighted the darker side of Amelia's life at the school and how even a strong relationship between a parent and child can be undermined by outside influences.
It is a hard book to classify in terms of genre. It is to some extent a coming-of-age story though one with a tragic ending. I felt a great deal of empathy for Kate as the subject of suicide hit close to home for me, making some aspects of the story difficult to read. The kind of stress Amelia was under certainly placed my own experiences as a child and teenager into perspective or indicated that the world has become a much harsher place to be young. So top marks for this novel and it is one I shall certainly recommend to others.