Reconstructing Amelia

  • by Kimberly McCreight
  • Narrated by Khristine Hvam
  • 12 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

When Kate, single mother and law firm partner, gets an urgent phone call summoning her to her daughter's exclusive private school, she's shocked. Amelia has been suspended for cheating, something that would be completely out of character for her over-achieving, well-behaved daughter.
Kate rushes to Grace Hall, but what she finds when she finally arrives is beyond comprehension. Her daughter is dead.
Despondent over having been caught cheating, Amelia has jumped from the school's roof in an act of impulsive suicide. At least that's the story Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. In a state of shock and overcome by grief, Kate tries to come to grips with this life-shattering news. Then she gets an anonymous text: Amelia didn't jump.
The moment she sees that message, Kate knows in her heart it's true. Clearly Amelia had secrets, and a life Kate knew nothing about. Wracked by guilt, Kate is determined to find out what those secrets were and who could have hated her daughter enough to kill. She searches through Amelia's emails, texts, and Facebook updates, piecing together the last troubled days of her daughter's life.
Reconstructing Amelia is a stunning debut pause-resistor 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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Gossip Girl

Entertainment Weekly recommends this book highly, and I recommend as a good read; not outstanding.

Suspended and deceased good girl, Amelia narrates the preceeding events to her alleged suicide. Loving, work-a-holic mom pieces together clues from texts, visits to friends' houses, and examines her own past to determine if her daughter really jumped. Gossip Girl themes run rampant, with secret clubs and hazing, but McCreight is a better writer than Cecily Von Ziegesar.

Interesting listen and worth my credit, but a little hokey at times.
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- FanB14 "Short, Simple, No Spoilers"

VERY Mean Girls

This isn't just listening; it is working a numbing and gutsy jigsaw puzzle...fitting the pieces together, filling in the details, until the whole big picture crystallizes. It is the reconstruction of that cracked picture that is the catalyst for this story. McCreight has crafted each piece to build the suspense, expand the clues, and keep you anxiously waiting for the next piece. The story is impressive for a debut novel, and it is engrossing--laced with hot-button concerns that keep triggering a nagging whisper of plausibility in your head: peer pressure, a sexualized culture, sexual identity, bullying, increased single parent providers, and the ever-present social media. Switching the narration between the mother and daughter heightens the differing perspectives, and allows each character's personality to shine through. This approach also gives an authentic feel to the journals, texts, and facebook conversations used to tell this story and put all the pieces together. All handled very well by narrator Khristine Hvam, who wisely chose not to give a cheesy adolescent voice to the teen characters.

Unless one is a helicopter parent, breaks into journals and diaries, regularly monitors Twitter accounts and facebook pages, well does a parent really know a child? When successful attorney and single mother Kate receives a call from her daughter's exclusive private school saying that her seemingly perfect girl has been suspended, she begins to question what she thought was an uncommonly close and loving relationship with her daughter. By the time she arrives at the school, things have gone horribly wrong. Amelia's body is crumpled on the grass -- the school says that she was distraught and jumped to her death. Kate is consumed by guilt; nights of overtime, mother-daughter time interrupted by emergency calls from work, those secrets that she kept to protect her daughter... Who is this ambiguous new text-friend Ben? And then, there are the Magpies --a secret exclusive clique of malevolent amoral creatures that make the girls from Heathers/Mean Girls/Gossip Girl look like Tinkerbell and her fairy pals. What Kate sees doesn't fit what she knows in her heart.

Thorny but entertaining listen I enjoyed (in spite of an over reliance on excessive dramatic elements, and some improbable happenings like the author of the school blog--I'm so sure [??] ). It's a choice I recommend with some reservations:
*This seems to be a new trend in books--a book that appeals to YA readers, but is written with language that will get a music CD the Tipper Gore big b&w *Parental Advisory* label. If the language isn't a deterrent, it's possible the flippant sexual encounters and liberal use of drugs and ETOH might be.
Finally, the comparison to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl is a stretch (and a little optimistic) that I just didn't see, other than the use of a variety of communications. Maybe a case of publisher manipulation?
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- Mel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-02-2013
  • Publisher: HarperAudio