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Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 2, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kate believes her daughter, 15-year-old Amelia, has committed suicide, jumping from the roof of her private school—until she receives an anonymous text saying simply, “Amelia didn’t jump.” Could she have been murdered? Kate, a successful attorney, is determined to find out even as she is haunted by the fear she has failed her daughter, too often putting her career ahead of her responsibilities as a mother. McCreight has written an elaborately plotted mystery that not only tells Kate’s story but also includes Amelia’s own first-person narrative along with her e-mails, texts, and Facebook posts, all of which tell a harrowing story while keeping the reader one step ahead of Kate and the police. This first novel occasionally requires a willing suspension of disbelief and comes dangerously close to melodrama near the end, but McCreight does a fine job of building suspense and creating characters, notably Kate and Amelia, whom the target audience—both adults and older teens—will care about and empathize with. --Michael Cart


“Like Gone Girl, Reconstructing Amelia seamlessly marries a crime story with a relationship drama. And like Gone Girl, it should be hailed as one of the best books of the year…A” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Just finished a fantastic novel–Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. So. Well. Done. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love this too.” (Jodi Picoult)

“Clever and scary . . . McCreight has her finger on the private school zeitgeist. . .and this disturbing tale will make older readers fondly recall the days when kids got in trouble for passing (print) notes in class.” (USA Today)

“Did Amelia Baron really get caught cheating and then commit suicide—or is the truth more sinister? A nail-biter for Gone Girl fans.” (People)

“Reconstructing Amelia will keep you hooked till the last page.” (BookPage)

Gossip Girl meets Gone Girl.” (Entertainment Weekly, “Summer Must” List)

Wow! I was pulled in after reading the first page.… It’s sort of a thriller/prep school teen drama that is full of secrets.” ( Staff Pick)

“[A] mystery with enough red herring to stock Lake Michigan…this is the novel most likely to be found in coming weeks not on the beach but on the F train. ” (New York Times)

“McCreight captures the complexities, cruelty and angst of teenage girls so well my stomach was in knots. What really happened to Amelia? You’ll find yourself staying up all night to find out.” (Jennifer McMahon, New York Times-bestselling author of The One I Left Behind)

“The real story of Amelia’s life and death emerges slowly, through a creative blend of Kate’s present, Amelia’s past, and such varied communication methods as texts, e-mails, blog entries, and Facebook status updates. . . . Fans of literary thrillers will enjoy the novel’s dark mood and clever form.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A multilayered legal thriller. . . . Comes to a seamless and unanticipated conclusion.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“An elaborately plotted mystery. . . . A harrowing story. . . . McCreight does a fne job of building suspense and creating characters, notably Kate and Amelia, whom the target audience—both adults and older teens—will care about and empathize with.” (Booklist)

“McCreight combines a poignant, pulled-from-the-headlines story with writing sanctified by Antietam Review and Oxford magazine.” (Library Journal)

“We love a powerful debut, and this is just that.… It’s Mean Girls meets The Secret History meets the cyberbullying case of Amanda Todd––and it’s unputdownable.” (Daily Candy)

“Fast-paced and suspenseful…. a page-turning mystery and thriller will appeal to…fans of Jodi Picoult.” (School Library Journal)

“Kimberly McCreight’s debut novel shines a light on teen-girl culture.…I wanted to keep reading.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“A tale of elaborate mystery intertwined with the tenderness of a mother’s love, Reconstructing Amelia exudes suspense at every turn…. Gripping and tragic, [it] is a true page turner.” (Click)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006222543X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062225436
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,023 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Kimberly McCreight is the New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia, which was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony and Alex awards and has been acquired in 17 countries. She attended Vassar College and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

183 of 202 people found the following review helpful By DS from LA on April 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was drawn to this book by the publicity comparing it to last year's "Gone Girl." That book was an intricately plotted mystery with stunning twists that were completely unexpected and that actually made sense. It was also extremely well-written, told through the distinctive voices of at least three separate characters. This book doesn't even come close. The author packs in a large number of subplots and mini-mysteries, leading the reader to anticipate a clever and unifying resolution that will tie all the loose threads together in a surprising and satisfying manner. No such luck. Without giving spoilers, I think I can safely say that many (most?) of the subplots in the book are resolved in ways that appear wholly arbitrary and have no connection to the central mystery of what happened to Amelia. The resolution of one of the mysteries (involving the author of a particularly vicious school gossip blog) ultimately turns on a character's wholly implausible motivation that is casually tossed off in a single sentence. Also, unlike "Gone Girl," the two narrators (and just about every other character) speak with utterly interchangeable voices; the author's attempt to create a distinctive 15-year-old's narrative voice largely consists of throwing in the word "like" a lot.

Particularly disturbing to me was the poor editing of this book, which is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. (I read the Kindle version, so I don't know if the same mistakes appear in the print edition.) The author's bio tells us that she attended Vassar College and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
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112 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Nitty's Mom TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Reconstructing Amelia reminds me of another book I loved "Sister". In both cases, we have a heart-breaking tale of a woman who will do whatever it takes to get to the truth of a love-ones so called suicide. In this case, single mother Kate Baron cannot believe that her high achiever/perfect 15 year old daughter Amelia jumped from the roof of her New York private school. Kate harbors guilt about the long hours she works at her prestigious law firm. Kate believes that the bond she had with Amelia was strong and that the time they spend together was quality.

Reconstructing Amelia swings back and forth between alternating chapters; Kate in the present and Amelia approximately 1 month before her death to slowly reveal what happened on the roof. We quickly learn that both Kate and Amelia had secrets that are also revealed through snippets from Amelia's E-mail/face-book page and a scathing school gossip blog. Amelia had recently been pegged to join an elitist all girls club at school. As a pledging, Amanda becomes enamored with one if its founding members, Dylan, and makes an enemy of another vindictive club member, Zadie. Amelia's secretive/time consuming membership in this club called the Magpies also causes tension between her self-centered boy/crazy best friend Sylvia. "Reconstructing Amelia" is reminiscent of Donna Tartt's "The Secret History". It tackles very relevant subjects such as emotional bullying, teen-age isolation, autism, and sexuality. Amelia was a believable and likable teen-ager. Kate's guilt and regret were palpable as she slowly begins to uncover the many facets she did not know of her daughters life.

Reconstructing Amelia is a well written story about cruel teen-age behavior and a coming-of- age story.
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92 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Jay Read on April 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
"...Because you don't want to, like, get into the deets of your kid's Facebook page. I mean, I'm twenty-four, and I'm a pretty scrubbed-up guy and whatevs, but my 'rents would stroke out if they saw my whole page. You've gotta filter it for ma and pa. I mean, who wants to see their kid doing body shots, like, ever?"

Seriously. This is a direct quote. I like to think I'm young enough to know how "the kids" are talking these days, and I don't know a single soul that talks like that. Not even 24 year old "stoner" IT Tech guys, like she is trying to portray this character. It's as though the author watched a bunch of terrible teen movies to get some lingo, took some of what she remembered from being a teenager herself, and then tried desperately to sound like she knows how kids/young adults talk today. All this in a book that's supposed to be for adults...? No thanks.
The beginning of the book was rough going, and every time we're in the vantage point of the teenagers, the writing is horrid like the above quote. After I read that line, I literally couldn't stomach anymore, so I have no idea how this book ends....
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168 of 198 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Eckert on April 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think the reviewers got this one wrong. Everyone is comparing this book to Gone Girl, but it doesn't come close in comparison to that interesting, unique book. Reconstructing Amelia borrows devices from other books like different voices and a changing timeline, but it isn't using these devices in a better or new way. The writing style of this book is closer to Gossip Girl, and I wish it was more clear in the book's description (and reviews) that this is more of a Young Adult novel.

Pet Peeve: If I'm reading about a really smart character, I would not like to be told that they're smart (over and over) me how smart they are in their actions. I kept reading that Amelia and Kate were both very smart--a good student, a great lawyer--but I really can't see where either one of them showed me how clever or smart they were in their actions within the book.

Sadly, the hype of this book didn't match the was not inspiring, but instead a disappointment.
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