Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
A Novel

77%

64 Critic Reviews

The mix of desire and disdain for popularity and acceptance many women face and the way it shapes them as human beings and informs their actions is the heart of Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate's in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter—now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump.

Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save.

Fans of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl will find Reconstructing Amelia just as gripping and surprising.

 

About Kimberly McCreight

See more books from this Author
Kimberly McCreight, named one of Entertainment Weekly's "13 to Watch in 2013," attended Vassar College and graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After several years as a litigation associate at some of New York City's biggest law firms, she left the practice of law to write full-time. Her work has appeared in such publications as Antietam Review, Oxford Magazine, and Babble. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and two daughters.
 
Published April 2, 2013 by Harper. 405 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 11 2014
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Critic reviews for Reconstructing Amelia
All: 64 | Positive: 55 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Above average
on Jan 06 2013

Readers will need to swallow the premise that a police homicide investigator would allow the mother of a victim to tag along on the investigation and question witnesses, but otherwise, this is a solid debut novel.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Jan 21 2013

Fans of literary thrillers will enjoy the novel’s dark mood and clever form, even if the mystery doesn’t entirely hold together.

Read Full Review of Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Examiner

Below average
Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on May 01 2013

The end solves the mystery but without any great surprises. Amelia herself narrates how she died -- no twists involved. Considering the book's effective build-up, the anti-climactic ending is a bit flat.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Rhonda Sturtz on Apr 02 2013

The mix of desire and disdain for popularity and acceptance many women face and the way it shapes them as human beings and informs their actions is the heart of Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Amelia.

Read Full Review of Reconstructing Amelia: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

RT Book Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Robyn Bonavita on May 17 2014

...you’ll hope against hope for a happily ever after for the characters that you’ve become so invested in. This fantastic book whets your appetite for more from McCreight.

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Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Henry Goldblatt on Apr 10 2013

...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.

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Teen Reads

Good
Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts on Apr 05 2013

RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA pulls you in from the first page and leaves you shaken with the tragedy of it all. This is a book that should be read by parents, teachers and students alike and needs to be in every high school and public library.

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City Book Review

Good
Reviewed by Leslie Wolfson on Jul 23 2013

The story is told through narrative, texts, and e-mails. It’s much more than just a mystery novel and covers such issues as dealing with grief, keeping secrets, mother/daughter relationships, and making good choices. It is wonderfully readable.

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City View

Excellent
Reviewed by Shirley Shiffler on May 29 2013

“Reconstructing Amelia” is one of those “I’ll just finish this chapter; OK, just half an hour more; argh!, I can’t put this book down!” page-turners that I love to come across.

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Mystery Tribune

Good
on May 18 2014

The tale is told in alternating chapters of present and the past and there are also varying formats including emails and Facebook communications which make for a visually interesting read. Overall, we recommend this book to readers who are looking for a fresh voices and intriguing plots.

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Upcoming4.Me

Above average
Reviewed by Upcoming4me on Feb 03 2014

While it must be admitted that it's characters could've been written a bit better, "Reconstructing Amelia" is an engrossing and important read. The fact that Kimberly McCreight tackled such serious matters shows how brave she really is but then, to go one step further and to have done it so well marks a real achievement.

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Murphreesboro Pulse

Above average
Reviewed by Sarah Porterfield on Jun 05 2013

It all sounds a little Gossip Girl-meets-CSI on the surface, but Reconstructing Amelia seamlessly blends a crime story with a touching relationship drama about a mother and her devotion to her daughter. It’s Gossip Girl without the silliness, CSI without the cheesy just-for-effect tricks.

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The BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Brooke on Apr 23 2013

Kimberly McCreight creates a thoroughly contemporary novel in Reconstructing Amelia. The chapters switch perspectives from Kate to Amelia while text messages and Facebook posts shed light on the hours and minutes just before Amelia's death. Center stage is the relationship between mother and daughter...

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Curled Up

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Leonard on May 17 2014

Early on, I thought McCreight would start telegraphing her plot and turn the story into yet another predictable tale where the fate of the main character is revealed halfway through. My blunder.

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Booking Mama

Good
Reviewed by Julie P on Apr 29 2013

I thought RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA was a great read...and I highly recommend it to fans of mysteries as well as ones who enjoy novels about relationship issues.

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Before It's News

Excellent
on Jan 08 2014

If you enjoyed the complexities of Gillian Flynn’s novel, Gone Girl, then you definitely also want to read this book. I’m happy I read Reconstructing Amelia and I’m looking forward to more books by this author!

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Jenn's Bookshelves

Excellent
on Apr 10 2013

This is a novel that will haunt me, but remind me to never take for granted the relationship we have with our son, no matter how challenging and difficult may get. Highly recommended, specifically for young adults or parents with teen children.

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All the Books I Can Read

Good
Reviewed by 1GIRL2MANYBOOKS on Apr 09 2013

It rang true to me, that as a grieving parent you would act irrationally, out of character and stupidly. I loved this book. It’s one I’ll be recommending to people.

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BlackFive

Good
Reviewed by Elise Cooper on Apr 09 2013

Reconstructing Amelia is a fast-paced and informative book. It is a story that will leave the reader with unanswered questions, but that is part of the power of the plot.

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Always With A Book

Above average
Reviewed by Kristin on Jul 21 2013

I'm definitely going to be keeping Kimberly McCrieight on my list of authors to watch out for...this was an amazing debut and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

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Devourer of Books

Good
on May 10 2013

Kate’s discoveries often connect with what Amelia is going through in the alternate chapters, but not so much that anything feels redundant. It is overall a very well put together story.

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Novelicious

Good
Reviewed by Zoe Lea on Jul 18 2013

A fast paced mystery with bad girl characters that I just loved to hate and kept me page turning right to the end.

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Reading Lark

Good
Reviewed by Paula on Dec 19 2013

This was a great read that I think most adults will enjoy. If you get a chance to pick it up, add it to your TBR pile.

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Book Journey

Above average
Reviewed by Sheila on Jan 10 2014

Reconstructing Amelia is a good read. If you enjoy YA reads with modern-day and realistic teen dealings, this will be a good fit for you. I can see this as a movie.

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Beth Fish Reads

Below average
Reviewed by Beth F on Apr 18 2013

...McCreight telegraphed a few of the clues so strongly that at least some of mystery of what happened to Amelia was easy to figure out. There were still a couple of details that were not obvious, but the big reveal factor fell flat for me.

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Nomad Reader

Good
on Apr 18 2013

Reconstructing Amelia is an addictive thriller combined with a moving story of the relationship between a mother and teenage daughter. That McCreight manages both stories equally well is a testament to her writing and character development.

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Kritters Ramblings

Good
Reviewed by Kristin Jones on Apr 30 2013

...I found this book to be a great adult version of Gossip Girl - with prep school high schoolers, a few moments of crazy parties and a murder mystery, it had all the ingredients, but it had the extra kick of one of the main narrators being a parent to give it more of a sophisticated adult edge.

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The Reading Date

Good
Reviewed by Lucy on Sep 27 2013

Reconstructing Amelia is a good book to read if you’re in a reading rut- it’s riveting and you won’t want to put it down.

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Under My Apple Tree

Good
Reviewed by Leslie on May 10 2013

I wasn’t sure if this was a YA or adult novel, but it is very well-written and would easily find an audience among either group.

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From the TBR Pile

Above average
Reviewed by Autumn Crochet on Jul 29 2013

I ended up liking this book a lot more than I expected to. It was a very good mystery...So great debut novel!

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Bermuda Onion's Weblog

Good
on May 17 2013

Not only is Reconstructing Amelia one heck of a ride, it also addresses issues like social media, sexuality, and bullying. I think book clubs would find a lot to discuss in this book. I know I did!

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Book'd Out

Excellent
Reviewed by Shelleyrae Cusbert on Apr 09 2013

It came as a surprise to me that I found Reconstructing Amelia such a page turner but this engaging novel was a fast read with an intriguing cast and storyline. Reconstructing Amelia is an impressive debut from an author to watch.

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Book Hooked Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Julie G on Apr 09 2013

Recommended to fans of the genre, obviously, but I also think this book has great crossover appeal for adults or teens who enjoy reading YA. The school setting and the age of some of the central characters will be appealing to those who like contemporary YA and it addresses some social issues that are also of interest to that age group.

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My Shelf Confessions

Above average
Reviewed by April on May 24 2013

I give kudos to McCreight for portraying such a down to earth and easy to relate to character without going all cliche

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Pop Culture Nerd

Above average
Reviewed by Pop Culture Nerd on Mar 31 2013

...the story has emotional heft, with Amelia becoming most affecting and hopeful right before she dies.

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It's Either Sadness or Euphoria

Good
Reviewed by Larry on Apr 04 2013

Reconstructing Amelia is a book about friendship, romance, love between parent and child, and forging your own identity. It's also a book about the dangers of keeping secrets and the need to feel you fit in. It hooked me from start to finish...

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Alison's Book Marks Blog

Good
Reviewed by Alison Skap on Apr 16 2013

I enjoyed this book from start to finish. Readers will become completely engrossed in this story of mothers and daughters, mean girls, bullies, school pressure, and a teenager struggling to find herself while trying to make everyone around her happy.

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Bookin' with Bingo

Above average
Reviewed by Bingo on Mar 08 2013

RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA is masterfully written by alternating Kate and Amelia’s first person point of view so that the narrative shows readers what really was going on before and after Amelia’s death.

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Book Chase

Below average
Reviewed by Sam Sattler on Apr 02 2013

The novel does not work as well as one might expect because neither Amelia nor Kate are particularly realistic characters despite the horrible things that happen to them. However, I do suspect that female readers of Reconstructing Amelia are likely to disagree with me, and that I might be well outside the book’s target audience.

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Dot Scribbles

Good
Reviewed by Dot on Dec 18 2013

I would recommend Reconstructing Amelia, the story was interesting and topical and I particularly liked the refreshing way in which Kimberly McCreight presented it.

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red headed book child

Good
Reviewed by Michelle on May 02 2013

The story goes back and forth in time and is told from Amelia and Kate's perspectives. Some chapters are just texts, others blog posts. All in the all it was intriguing and made me anxious to find out how it was going to turn out. I did not figure much out until the very end which I like.

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TLC Book Tours

Good
on Mar 27 2013

Reconstructing Amelia is a stunning debut page-turner that brilliantly explores the secret world of teenagers, their clandestine first loves, hidden friendships, and the dangerous cruelty that can spill over into acts of terrible betrayal.

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Linus's Blanket

Above average
Reviewed by Nicole Bonia on Jun 19 2013

McCreight’s novel is incredibly engrossing, and to start reading it is to make a commitment. I kept coming back to it – wanting to get just a little closer to finding out what happens to Kate and Amelia. Cleverly, there are several threads to be sorted by the end.

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My Friend Amy

Good
Reviewed by Amy on Apr 08 2013

I'm not going to lie...I did predict a few twists before they happened. But I didn't mind at all since that wasn't the point of the story to me at all. It was taking the journey with these characters.

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Daisy Chain Book Reviews

Below average
Reviewed by Daisy Chain Book Reviews on Jul 15 2013

While I enjoy a great mystery and love a good plot twist, I have to say I found some of the revelations in Reconstructing Amelia disappointing and even a little hackneyed at times...That said, while the ending of this one didn’t wow me, Reconstructing Amelia is a compelling book that kept me reading...

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The Cyberlibrarian Reads

Good
Reviewed by Miriam Downey on May 08 2013

...I think this fits very well with the older teenager who is past some of the more hideous parts of being a teenager and can look at Amelia's crisis with more adult eyes. More appropriately, I think it fits very well as a cautionary tale for parents of teenagers...

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Nashville Book Worm

Good
on May 31 2013

It’s a fascinating first published novel by McCreight. I’m certainly intrigued enough by her first novel to add her to my list of writers to watch.

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Live to Read

Good
Reviewed by Krystal Larson on Dec 09 2013

This book highlights the importance of communication. If I had a daughter I would wonder what her activity was online, but I might not worry even if I should be worried. With children accessing Facebook and other social media, bullying and lying can take a whole different form. This book is recommended to adult readers.

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The Infinite Curio

Above average
Reviewed by Kay on Sep 19 2013

All in all, Reconstructing Amelia was a mystery I enjoyed. I liked how the emails and texts were included in the story, and the author did a great job of differentiating Amelia and Kate’s voices.

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Tales of a Book Addict

Above average
Reviewed by Tara on Aug 07 2013

Overall I highly recommend this book. I think it’s a really good read. But I must warn you, it’s not a sugar-coated, G-rated book. So take that into account if you have issues with reading foul language and sexual situations.

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The Bawdy Book Blog

Excellent
Reviewed by Jessica on Jul 24 2013

I was able to relate to both Amelia and her mother Kate. Amelia is a likeable teenager...There isn’t much more I can say without giving anything away, but I highly, highly recommend this one!

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Book Twirps

Good
Reviewed by Odell on Apr 23 2013

In the end, I really liked this book. In fact, I ordered a hardcover copy the minute I finished reading. While this is considered Adult fiction, 75 – 80% of the book is told from Amelia’s perspective, which gives it more of a YA feel.

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Patti Smith

Above average
Reviewed by Peppermint Ph.D. on Apr 17 2013

If all moms could read this book and realize that even if their little angel would never possibly be caught up in this kind of tangled web, sometimes their actions, judging, attitudes, and ignorance end up perpetuating the tragedy that other people's children have to endure.

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The Savvy Reader

Above average
Reviewed by Kaitlyn on Mar 28 2013

This story will draw in young fans of television hit Pretty Little Liars. It will attract older fans of faced-paced mystery thrillers. Its mean girls and exclusive cliques are a teenager’s bad dream; Kate’s pain is a parent’s worst nightmare.

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Marjolein

Good
Reviewed by MarjoleinBookBlog on Aug 06 2013

It was particularly difficult to tell which time of her life Kate was talking about...Once we get over this hurdle, the story will become so much easier to read. In the end I didn't quite get why the bullies made such a point about Amelia's secret and it was quite a fuss about actually nothing. This book was quite an fast and enjoyable read.

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Imaginary Reads

Above average
Reviewed by Alice on Apr 24 2013

Reconstructing Amelia is a heartbreaking story. I enjoyed this book from beginning to the end. The book addresses many important issues such as bullying, single parents, posh private schools, homosexuality, ethics, secret clubs, adultery, and role of technology and social media in teen culture.

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In Search of the End of the Sidewalk

Excellent
Reviewed by Michelle Ross on Apr 10 2013

A tale of a young girl’s suicide may not seem like the book you want to rush home from work to curl up with on the couch, but Kimberly McCreight weaves a tale so intricate and twist-filled that I did just that- scurried home from work and into my pajamas so I could read a chapter or two before dinner and then another few before bed...

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Feeling a Little Bookish

Above average
Reviewed by Meaghan on Jan 16 2014

The writing in this novel is quite good. It is well done and as I said before I couldn't put this book down. She makes you feel for each of the characters in a very real day.

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http://thewindypages.com

Above average
on Nov 18 2013

...there was something slightly missing from the book and perhaps I won’t be able to adequately explain it. Although a fine character on paper, Kate lacked personality for me...The world created is real, filled with tensions and misunderstandings. I really liked how I didn’t know what had happened until the very end.

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Simply Stacie

Good
Reviewed by Stacie on Apr 01 2013

I savoured every page and was sad to see it end. If there’s only one book you read this year, let it be Reconstructing Amelia.

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Emma Lee's Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Emma Lee on Jul 10 2013

Ultimately though “Reconstructing Amelia” doesn’t moralise: it asks questions about peer pressure, loyalty, keeping secrets and how far someone might go to keep a reputation or status for both teenagers and adults.

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A Woman, A Wife, A Mom

Good
on Jun 14 2013

I liked this book very much, and I was surprised at the end, even if I did have to suspend reality a bit. Recommend.

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Amy's Book Obsession Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Amy on Jun 10 2013

The primary thing that bothered me was how involved the local police allowed the mother to be in the investigation - that didn't feel realistic to me. But, otherwise, I really enjoyed this one. It's certainly a YA novel but I think it's a book that adults will enjoy as much as young adults.

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Thoughts in Progress

Excellent
Reviewed by Mason Canyon on May 04 2013

The plot moves at a steady pace filled with suspense and heart-pounding surprises along the way. It’s a story that will make you stop and think about your own child’s daily activities and circle of friends. This haunting tale will stay with you long after RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA has been completed.

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Reader Rating for Reconstructing Amelia
78%

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