- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (December 3, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062225448
- ISBN-13: 978-0062225443
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,359 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel Paperback – December 3, 2013
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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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
“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.” (People.com 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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Top customer reviews
I've read some other reviews that rip the book to shreds and there are a lot of good points. One complaint is that the characters are not all that likeable. I didn't mind Amelia and Kate, though. They typically had good intentions, even when they made dumb choices. They showed remorse and guilt for the choices they made and that was enough to make me care about what happened to them. I liked Kate's friend, Seth, and her boss, Jeremy. Amelia's best friend was kind of annoying but seemed loyal. I couldn't stand Amelia's new "friends" and couldn't understand why they were important to her, but teenagers are teenagers!
The book was very fast moving and I loved the format! It went back and forth between the present day with Kate, the recent past with Amelia, Amelia's texts and Facebook statuses, and a little bit of Kate's journals and emails from when she first became pregnant with Amelia. It wasn't confusing at all, but it was interesting.
I have mixed feelings about the ending. What was revealed all made sense and was properly foreshadowed, without being predictable. However, it seemed like a lot was not completely answered. There were still some questions and I, personally, wanted to see more of what the consequences were for the people involved. It would have been more satisfying to have more information at the end and all the loose ends tied up. I took one star away for that.
I would recommend this book to fans of drama and mystery. I had difficulty putting it down and kept wanting to find out what happened next. I liked the pace at which plot points were revealed and it kept me interested. I was in shock and horror as the story unfolded. It was a lot of drama, like a soap opera! This book made me incredibly happy to no longer be in high school. It had my jaw hanging open at times as things were unveiled. Great read overall!
Amelia was never a “normal” schoolgirl. She was happy not to join any cliques, happy to hang out exclusively with her best friend Sylvia. The two establish their own self perception of superiority to the reigning school popularity class system, until Amelia is seduced into joining a rather toxic social group that seems to delight in humiliating others. Sylvia remains unaware of Amelia’s initiation activities.
So does Amelia’s mom, Kate. A highly educated single career mom fast tracked for a partner position in a law firm, she is determined to remain a good mother to Amelia. While Kate is preoccupied with secrets in her past, Amelia is racing to keep up with changes that will affect her future. Amelia wants to have a close relationship with Kate, but there is never enough time. So Amelia must confide everything in Sylvia, except for the group named Magpies that wants to initiate Amelia into some humiliating hazing activities. Unable to confide in Kate or Sylvia, Amelia turns to Ben, a person she knows only through text messages. Left alone a lot, Sylvia turns to sex with Ian as an outlet. Unknown to her, Ian is involved with the secret group Magpies, as is Amelia.
There are lots of supporting characters: teachers, administrators, legal colleagues, PTA members, the 22 members of the Magpies. There are lots of backstories, a lot of flashbacks (that is why the reader should pay attention to the content pages). The clever use of Facebook and text messages can make some of the entries, or chapters go very fast. I read this in four hours on a Sunday afternoon in one reading session. I did not want to put it down because it was very absorbing and I also felt I might get lost if I did so; then I would have to review what I had read before proceeding further.
Of course, I will not reveal the ending, but will note that there are many surprises and, for me, very emotional. I think it inevitable that many will compare this author to Gillian Flynn or Liane Moriarty.