Reconstructing Amelia


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From Amazon’s book description:

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.


Reconstructing Amelia was recently featured in this article of Entertainment Weekly and therefore basically everyone ever is talking about it. It’s being tauted out as this year’s Gone Girl (high praise) and so I basically had to read it, being the rabid fan of Gone Girl that I am. Plus, I was determined, this time, to get myself a good seat on the bandwagon (not one of the lame ones at the back) so I finished it up this weekend and, I have to say, it earned its buzz.

Now, this is Kimberly McCreight’s debut and, I think perhaps I could feel a bit more of the debut-ed-ness in this book than in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a thing. And at the beginning of my reading experience, I felt that the Gone Girl comparisons were actually a disservice to the book since it led me to expect Gone Girl Part II in many respects. But this isn’t. It wins crossover appeal in splitting its point of view characters between adult Kate and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Amelia. So you have a solidly YA plotline alongside the story of Kate as she tries to clear the name of her daughter, who has ostensibly committed suicide at school. Amelia’s point of view covers what happened leading up to the time of her death.

McCreight also uses Facebook, texts and emails to break up the various narrative. Honestly, at first I was worried that I’d find this a rather cheap trick. But I actually found myself looking forward to the short-interspersed pages of texts. And they contained a nice mystery in themselves.

The truth of the comparison between GG and Reconstructing Amelia lies in the authors’ ability to build compelling relationships and gradually unravel them. In Reconstructing Amelia, everyone has a secret and I was genuinely surprised by the reveals that took place with surprising regularity (meaning not just as the end). Another truly impressive feat–I honestly did not know what happened to Amelia until the author was ready for me to know. Rarely have I been so surprised by an ending.

For my lawyer-friends, McCreight is a former lawyer at big NY law firms and there are plenty of veiled references to Above The Law, mommy guilt and summer associate programs that you can quietly smirk at.

By about 60% through, I had started packing my Kindle with me, reading at stoplights while my husband drove, peeking at the pages as I blowed dried my hair. My husband had to actually issue a warning to me not to take the book into dinner with our friends on Saturday night (not that I would have–swear). I ended up waking up extra early on Sunday morning to finish and then promptly going back to bed. I take my Sunday morning sleeping pretty seriously, so let’s just say–it’s that good.

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