Crime & Beyond Wiki

Kim's Cookies

Crime & Beyond met in March to discuss Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight. Jose led the discussion and Kim brought a different kind of crack cookies. Which of course means that they were just as addicting, and super tasty.

We welcomed two new members, Jessi and Phyllis. Both of the girls fit right in and contributed to the book talk. We hope to see you each month for our lively discussion.

The book was about the death of a young girl at a private school in Brooklyn, NY. Amelia falls/jumps from the top of one of the school buildings in the beginning of the book, as her Mom makes her way to the school to pick her up. Racked with guilt, and after receiving a text that Amelia did not jump (something the whole school took for granted), the Mom starts to try and piece together Amelia’s life to see what happened to her daughter. In alternating chapters we hear about what is going in at the school through Amelia’s eyes, specifically her entry into a clickish club called the Magpies. Similar to a sorority in college, the Maggies put the new recruits through a hazing process. The joining of the club, Amelia falling in love with Dillon (one of the Maggies), and feeling she’s betrayed her best friend by not telling her anything about her initiation, all lead to the ultimate incident on the rooftop that ends Amelia’s life.

Jose was the perfect person to lead the discussion on this book because he and Ashley are parents to two young children. I believe they are entering their teen years and the parents are experiencing a bit of the school’s bullying, judgmental friends, and what has unfortunately become the “usual” teenage troubles.

We heard from several parents about their experiences with their kids and bullying, as well as some personal examples of being bullied. The book definitely hit home with a lot of members and it was great that everyone felt comfortable sharing their experiences with the group. Something that can take a lot of bravery, even for an adult.

Most of the parents felt that the book was spot on. The things that were going on with the kids was very true to the current trend (unfortunately). Those of us without kids do NOT envy the parents and what they have to deal with. Bullying when most of us were young was an in person affair, whereas these days it’s a very anonymous cyber experience. Which makes it that much more painful, as it is broadcast to the whole student body, rather than just the kids who were present for an incident and happened to see it. It also breeds a new kind of bully, the kind that doesn’t have enough guts to do it in person, but an anonymous post or text is right up their alley. I think it appeals to the bullying coward in our modern, electronic age. Whereas in the 80s, when I grew up, the bullies were the bolder kids.

It’s always weird for me to go on about how much the club ‘liked” a book when the topic was so disturbing. So it’s not that we liked the topic of bullying, but we felt the author did a wonderful job and that it should be read by most parents (those that can handle it and learn from it). The scores for the book were predominantly in the 7-9 range, with one 10. The positive comments were that it was an enjoyable read, the subject matter was spot on, it was an easy read, and many people loved the way it was written with alternating points of view and the inclusion of the texts that Amelia had received. Kate and Amelia were dynamic characters, and the book mixed a troubling subject with a mystery. Showing that things can look great on the outside but be anything but when you see behind the scenes.

The criticisms we had are similar to other books we’ve read. Many of us didn’t buy that the lead detective would take the Mom of the dead girl with him for the investigation. We usually concede that the author did it for a way to get the character in on the investigation, but we still thought it was a stretch. Dave felt Daisied (we’ll explain this later new ladies) that the Waardenburg Syndrome thing showed itself in all 3 of the people who had it. Making the connection a bit contrived. We did look up the syndrome and I guess it affects a very high number of offspring, so likely that both girls would get it from their philandering Dad, Jeremy. I thought the author wrote very well, and will be very interested to see what is published next. Some of us didn't relate to the book and didn't score it very high, not for the writing, just for the topic. Not all book topics appeal to all readers.

Some of us agreed that the book was a bit more YA than adult novel. Since a lot of us adults read YA, that wasn’t a problem, just an observation. We talked about whether kids should read it and whether or not it might be too disturbing and close to home. I think we were in agreement that some kids could handle it, but maybe not all.

Anyone who likes to see books made into movies will be happy to know that Nicole Kidman has started to work on the project. I think books get unfortunate topics like this out there, but movies hit an even larger audience. So hopefully the project will come to fruition.

We will meet next on April 27th to discuss Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen. Dave will lead the discussion AND bring snacks. This book is the third in a series that contains investigators Stevens and Windermere. If you got a copy and have finished with it, please return it to a librarian to put on our shelf and email the group that you’ve done so. If you got a book and aren’t finish, what the heck is wrong with you – read faster and then see above.