“What are you to think? What’s even the right question to ask? Is it: Who’s to blame? Who can be sued? Probably not. ‘It changes life forever,’ they say. So it’s like an inflection point, an instant of chance where the curve of life changes directions.” Boggs joined his hands in an inverted V. “The change of direction is important, but life is what happens before and after. That’s the implication. But what if that’s wrong? What if what’s actually essential is the point of change? The instant where everything is altered: the accident, the collision, the rollover? What if that’s life? Where everything changes.” (266)
The Reconstructionist mostly left me feeling perplexed. The narrator Ellis is an accident reconstructionist, piecing together the data and evidence from fatal car accidents to find out exactly what happened. His older step-brother was killed in a car accident at the intersection near their home when they were kids and his girlfriend Heather witnessed it. Ellis and Heather reconnect years later and she gets him his job as a reconstructionist with her husband John Boggs. But when Ellis and Heather begin an affair, that’s when everything changes and their world spins out of control.
When I turned the last page in this book, my only thought was “why.” Why did this story need to be told?
Ellis’s job is interesting and some of the most interesting parts of the book were when Ellis and Boggs were working on accidents together. The last one hundred pages are completely engrossing and disturbing, but the character’s motivations for any given action were often fuzzy. Boggs and Heather, and even Ellis to a certain extent, felt very one-dimensional.
Boggs is an avid audiobook listener. I liked that touch.
I imagine there actually are accident reconstructionists. I’m a little bit terrified of accidents, so reading this book was occasionally difficult. The framing in this book is excellent – these three characters are thrown together and their lives are defined by accidents, their relationships created and destroyed by them. The execution, though, left a little bit to be desired.
I received a review copy of The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin from the publisher.