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108 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teenage cruelty - Mother's love
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...
Published on January 27, 2013 by Nitty's Mom

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148 of 165 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is NO "Gone Girl"
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...
Published 22 months ago by DS from LA


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108 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teenage cruelty - Mother's love, January 27, 2013
This review is from: Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel (Hardcover)
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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. For Kate Baron, a lesson in how secrets from the past can influence your future. Reconstructing Amelia is highly recommended for the appropriate reader including a young adult. Those looking to read a page-turner murder/suspense mystery may be disappointed.
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148 of 165 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This is NO "Gone Girl", April 27, 2013
By 
DS from LA (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
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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. So one would hope that she might know the difference between "your" and "you're," "then" and "than," "passed" and "past," "peeked" and "peaked," "confident" and "confidant," "reined" and "reigned," "overdo" and "overdue" (yes, a character says "don't overdue it," and isn't talking about a library book)... and might actually look up how to spell designer Donna Karan (not Donna Karen). As a reader, I found each of these errors painfully distracting, and the large number of them is really inexcusable. I've seen fewer errors in self-published porn on Amazon than in this major HarperCollins release.

I'm giving this an extra star because it held my interest and I read it in two days, but only because I was anticipating a payoff that never came.
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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The writing is worse than sparkly vampires!, April 9, 2014
"...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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150 of 177 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, April 9, 2013
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This review is from: Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel (Hardcover)
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)...show 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 content...it was not inspiring, but instead a disappointment.
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56 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those Mean Private School Girls!, February 6, 2013
By 
PattyLouise "Patty" (The lovely East Coast!) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Reconstructing Amelia
by
Kimberly McCreight

My "in a nutshell" summary...

Amelia...dies...is it suicide...an accident...or was she pushed?

My thoughts after reading this book...

Ok...me? Personally? I love private school stories. Privileged teens mixed with cool kids mixed with not so cool kids...lots of independence...lots of bullying...mixed in with arrogance and way too much freedom. This all usually makes for lots of drama...and this book is packed with drama. The story centers around Amelia and her mom, Kate. Kate is a single mom who works long hours but believes that she and her daughter have a great relationship. And they sort of do...but perhaps Kate trusts Amelia a bit too much. Amelia...lovely, smart, innocent, loyal, trusting...too trusting. Amelia gets involved with a secret club at her school...then falls in love...then gets bullied until her life falls apart.

Kate...numb and grieving...is determined to find out what really happened to her lovely daughter.

This book is a fast paced mystery so that's all I am going to tell you about it. There is that bad girl character that I loved hating...in fact there are a lot of mean girls in this novel...there are FaceBook scandals and mean texting and notes and a conspiracy contrived to bring Amelia and perhaps even Kate...down. The pages sped by and this book was sometimes heart breakingly sad.

What I loved about this book...

I loved Kate...I loved Amelia. I loved the way Amelia loved books and looked out for her friends. I loved the plotting. I loved the pace. I even loved the sad parts.

What I did not love...

Oooh...there were so many bullies and mean girls and even a mean mom or two...and a mean attorney...juicy juicy mean girl stuff...even some mean teachers!

Final thoughts...

I found this book too be so good...it literally was one of those really yummy books that I had to pry myself away from. It had a nice resounding ending...sort of sad but still good.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Glad I took it out of the libary instead of spending money, June 6, 2013
This review is from: Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel (Hardcover)
I wanted to like this book, since it got good reviews and as other reviewers have said, it was being compared to Gone Girl, which is a fantastic read. But, the tone and the story were both off. I have a 21-year-old and she and her friends NEVER talked like the kids in the book, and many of the characters are such gross stereotypes that it really turns the reader off. I didn't like the main character - what mother would just believe the police for a month that the death was a suicide and then FINALLY go into the girl's room to see if she could find anything revealing on her computer, in her phone, in a diary - maybe I am just a more naturally snoopy mother, but I would have been all over that room in a flash (plus, what - the police just got around to it after a month and the mother's prodding? Wouldn't that be just a little suspicious to A REALLY SMART LAWYER??) So, sorry, Amazon.com I know you are trying to make a sale, but if I had actually bought this book instead of taking it out of the library, I would have wanted my money back! Read Gone Girl instead if you haven't.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Cliched and annoying, September 3, 2013
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This review is from: Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel (Hardcover)
People are really comparing this book to "gone girl"? Sorry people who are, but you are wrong.

Cliches abound in this book. The characters lack nuance. The scenes that depict the "dark underbelly" of teenage life are so off the mark - not to mention lame - that it's embarrassing. To top it all off, the mother's self-loathing and guilt over her daughter's death never feels real - we read how bad she feels about everything, but we don't feel it. That's because this book tells instead of shows.

I like the book's concept, but it was executed poorly. Maybe the movie adaptation will be good.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting Lost Down the Rabbit Hole of Social Media, April 9, 2013
This review is from: Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel (Hardcover)
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This is a finely written, assured suspense novel that deals with the dangers of social media, as children go down a rabbit hole of communications with forces that create a world that becomes dangerous, ubiquitous, addictive, and, as this novel shows, outright deadly.

A single mother, Kate, working as an attorney, learns the hard way that she doesn't know her fifteen-year-old daughter Amelia as well as she should, that in fact, Amelia lives a secret life and that the true circumstances of her death will be concealed by a bevy of evil forces, all of which Kate must unearth in this literary whodunit. Kate's investigation process involves examining her daughter's texts, Facebook posts, emails and other social media so that she can glean not only a more accurate personality profile of the girl who has remained an enigma to her mother but also identify the tentacles of unsavory characters who have wrapped themselves around Amelia.

This is perhaps the best novel I've read about the suffocating effects of social media on teenage culture and the theme is elevated by the fact that the author doesn't rely on stereotypes to propel her novel but rather compelling, fully realized characters. Highly recommended.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I read it so you don't have to!, May 20, 2013
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This review is from: Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel (Hardcover)
"Reconstructing Amelia" was one of the most disappointing books I have read in the last year. Although the positive reviews and comparisons to "Gone Girl" may have inflated my expectations, I think that I would have had a difficult time finishing this book no matter what. I finished it, hoping that it would gel in the end, and provide a real "a-ha!" moment, but instead it just limped along until the very predictable conclusion.

The characters in "Reconstructing Amelia" function essentially as mannequins for the story to hang on. They have very little independent personality, and can instead be summed up as types: Amelia is a straight-off-the rack book-smart teen who is woefully naive about the motivations of those she encounters, and her mother is a hardworking, stretched-thin single mom. Other characters are even more cardboard, from Amelia's best friend, the conflicted, promiscuous girl, to the merciless caricatures that torment Amelia at school. The dialogue, especially between the younger characters, is so awkward and uneven that it can be uncomfortable to read. I kept wondering whether the author had ever spoken to an actual teenager.

Most fatally, this a novel that does not understand what a literary twist is. The "surprises" in the book are capricious, and are only thinly woven together. The book is fast-paced in that the revelations keep coming, but every new piece of information only serves to illustrate that an effort to shock, and not plot, is what drives "Reconstructing Amelia."
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, edge-of-your-seat thriller, April 13, 2013
This review is from: Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel (Hardcover)
No spoilers contained in this review.

I finished this book at 3:00 AM this morning and was absolutely blown away. I think the best way to read this book is without knowing too much, so I'm not going to speak to the plot. I heard it billed as this year's "Gone Girl," and that was enough for me. I loved "Gone Girl," and was absolutely not disappointed with the comparison. I would go as far to say that the characterization was an understatement.

It isn't totally fair to compare the two: different writing styles (both great), different plots, different devices used. Both Flynn and McCreight are great writers in their own right. Here is where I find the comparison justified: I read a book a week. I'd love to read more but I simply don't have the time. I read "Gone Girl" in three days. "Reconstructing Amelia," an admittedly easier read, I read in a day-and-a-half. When I wasn't reading the two books, I was thinking about when I could start reading them again. I was uncomfortable having this story in my head and not knowing the resolution.

I loved the writing, the voice, the characters. They mystery -- was it suicide? Did someone murder her? With 50 pages left it could have been a suicide, or any number of people. The cool thing is that I felt that it could legitimately be about 10 people who killed her, if she was killed. To me, that was an impressive accomplishment.

And all I will say about the ending is that I was very satisfied.

Gillian Flynn has a fair share of rabid fans (I include myself in this characterization). Some will no doubt be offended at the comparison between the two books, and some of those will find it necessary to point out all of the reasons that they shouldn't be compared. I think that's unfair. There is a ton of room at the top for amazing, top-notch books. While reading "Reconstructing Amelia," I haven't felt the way about reading I did since I read "Gone Girl." That alone, to me, justifies the comparison.
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Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel
Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel by Kimberly McCreight (Hardcover - April 2, 2013)
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