Book Review: Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia
Published by: Harper Perennial
Release date: December 3, 2013
Genre: Adult mystery
400 pages
Source: finished copy kindly provided by publisher

The buzz about this book drove me to check it out and put it on my TBR list. I don't remember exactly whose posts I read that advised that I read this book, but I know that the person was absolutely right. Reconstructing Amelia will likely become known as one of the "it" books of 2013.

Reconstructing Amelia is told from several viewpoints, out of order. We start at the end, then go back to learn how we ended up there. Even if you're a lucky guesser, I guarantee there will be at least one reveal that will surprise you.

Amelia is a good student at a private school in Brooklyn by day, and a rule-following daughter to her single mom by night. She is a bookworm whose creative writing has caught the attention of her language arts teacher. She plays field hockey, has one trusted best friend, and is a general good example to her peers. That all starts to crumble with one anonymous text.

One of my favorite devices in this book is the parallelism between Amelia and her mother, Kate. We unravel the mysteries of each simultaneously, as is fitting for two halves of a whole. Both mother and daughter are focused and driven, yet neither seems to have a clear, designated goal in mind. Both are managing just fine without a relationship, yet they experience moments of piercing loneliness. Each keep a major secret from the other, and each is hurt that the other has kept this secret. I really enjoyed following the lines dotted between them, and appreciated the different ways that the same plot points could be illustrated.

Another favorite bit is the rich and varied cast of female characters. We see both adolescent and adult examples of the academic nerd, the mean girl, the "perfect" one, the easy girl, and others. These female characters aren't just surrounded by hot boys, either- the male characters are realistically flawed and are willing to have *actual* conversations with the women. Though several characters are in relationships, none are defined by them. The students actually go to class, do homework, and care about their grades. It is refreshing to read a novel with an almost complete lack of cliche characters.

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. 


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.


  1. had not heard of the book before, but sounds great, I'll put on my


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