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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
Two other things: The author writes about suicide in the most demeaning of ways, referring to Virginia Woolf as a "suicide committer extraordinaire." Yes, seriously. As someone who works in suicide prevention, I'm particularly prone to picking up on details like these—and McCreight doesn't exactly write about it with any empathy or thoughtfulness (she seems to write very little thoughtfully). Also: Lots of typos. Did an editor even look at this dung heap?
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!
This book reads like a fantasy written by a mid-western college freshman imagining the drama of private school in the big evil city. The girls are psychotic and mean! The parents are psychotic and controlling! The school administration is hamstrung by the psychotic controlling parents! A loving mother leaves her 15-year-old daughter effectively alone all week, due to the pressures of work! In helicopter parent central Brooklyn? Maybe if the book were set in 1990, that last one would be believable.
The characters are wooden, the teen-speak the author attempts grates, the plot is thin and relies on anonymous texts that can be traced at just the right moment in the action. Finish the first quarter of the book and you'll have guessed why Amelia was targeted and who her real father is.
Months later, Kate is just starting to emerge from the grief to return to work when she receives a cryptic text that implies that Amelia didn't jump. Desperate to get the truth about her daughter's death, Kate starts digging with the help of a police detective. What she learns about her daughter will break her heart; make her question her own ability to parent and search out the people ultimately responsible.
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight is a suspenseful, emotional read. Normally, I would have devoured this book in a matter of days in a desperate attempt to get to the ending. Because I was reading with the book club and we had a reading schedule that spread out over several weeks and I was determined to stick to the schedule, I took my time and read this novel more slowly. In some ways, it made the characters and situation more powerful as I had more time to think and dwell on the story.
As a mother of children that are growing up way too fast, the topics of bullying and the choices our children make resonated with me. Kate is surprised often to find out the horrible things that Amelia was not telling her. It's easy to want to judge Kate for not being an attentive mother, yet I was reminded of my son's fourth grade year. He was being physically bullied by older boys and I did not pick up on the clues. It wasn't until I witnessed it myself in front of the school, that I realized that I had completely missed his earlier pleas for help.
Reconstructing Amelia is a powerful and scary book for a parent. McCreight has written a compelling, suspenseful and very realistic book about the life of a teenager. Though it takes place in a private school in New York with very wealthy students, the situations they face are not entirely different from the teenagers going to a public school in a religious area of the west. The ending was surprising and not completely satisfying but the book is definitely worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
modern day mystery lover? check.
quick, can't-out-down read for a vacation? you got it.
the title isn't apt, but the novel is!