The plot itself is relatively simple, focusing on a Kate Baron's quest to understand her teenage daughter Amelia's sudden suicide. But as the story moves along, nothing is as it seems, and soon Kate begins to suspect Amelia's death was not a suicide at all, but part of something larger and far more sinister. The story is told largely from Kate's third-person perspective as she searches for clues in Amelia's school papers, text messages, and Facebook posts. Amelia's first-person narrative appears now and then as well, slowly illuminating the weeks up to her death. Interspersed throughout are excerpts from the high school gossip blog giving a larger context to the events in Amelia's life and the high school environment in general. This hodgepodge collage of sources and formats really worked for me as a reader. Visually pleasing and well-formatted, it mirrors the way modern technology can complicate our communication and conceptions of narrative.
I wish Amelia had more page-time in this novel, because she was by far the most interesting character to me. McCreight does an excellent job of making the reader care about her, even though it is evident after the first fifteen pages or so that her death is unavoidable. Amelia's best friend Sylvia and the other high school characters are all complex and realistic, and the dialogue is one of McCreight's greatest strengths. She can make me interested in Kate's legal jargon and then a few pages later laugh out loud over the high school slang. I firmly believe this book would appeal equally to my mom as it would to my teenage sister, and that makes it stand out as a strong and compelling work.
Recommended to: legal/investigative drama fans (think Jodi Picoult, Janet Evanovich), people who love collage and experimental styles of storytelling, any woman who has ever loved a girl like their own daughter.
Release Date: April 2, 2013 Pages: 382 Format: ARC