Reconstructing Amelia
  • Reconstructing Amelia
  • Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia

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by Kimberly McCreight

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Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is shocked when her daughter's exclusive Brooklyn private school calls to tell her that Amelia—her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old—has been caught cheating. But when Kate arrives at Grace Hall, she's blindsided by far more devastating news: Amelia is dead. Despondent, she's jumped

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Litigation lawyer and harried single mother Kate Baron is shocked when her daughter's exclusive Brooklyn private school calls to tell her that Amelia—her intelligent, high-achieving fifteen-year-old—has been caught cheating. But when Kate arrives at Grace Hall, she's blindsided by far more devastating news: Amelia is dead. Despondent, she's jumped from the school's roof. At least that's what Grace Hall and the police tell Kate. It's what she believes, too, until she gets the anonymous text: Amelia didn't jump. Now, Kate is going to find the truth—no matter where it leads. Sifting through Amelia's e-mails, text messages, and Facebook posts, Kate reconstructs the pieces of her daughter's life and the people in it, uncovering why she was on Grace Hall's roof that day—and how she died.

A superb blend of Tana French and Jodi Picoult, Reconstructing Amelia is a story of secrets and lies, friends and bullies. It's about how well any parent really knows their child and how far one mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she could not save.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After her teenage daughter Amelia’s mysterious suicide, litigation attorney Kate Baron becomes an unlikely amateur sleuth in McCreight’s diverting, if busy, debut. Kate’s grief over Amelia’s death and guilt about her failures as a mother are compounded by a series of anonymous text messages intimating that Amelia was actually murdered. She partners up with NYPD Lt. Lewis Thompson, who involves her, to an implausible degree, as an equal in the investigation as they trawl through Amelia’s online history and interview her classmates and their families. 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, leading to a chaotic landslide of climactic revelations that strains believability. Amelia’s first-person narration provides the most human note, as McCreight portrays the darkness of adolescence, complete with doomed love, bullies, poisonous friendship, and insecurity. Fans of literary thrillers will enjoy the novel’s dark mood and clever form, even if the mystery doesn’t entirely hold together. Agent: Marly Rusoff, Marly Rusoff and Associates. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Former attorney McCreight pens a multilayered legal thriller. Single mom Kate Baron struggles with the unholy demands that come with being an associate at a high-powered New York City law firm while raising her 15-year-old daughter, Amelia. A child born out of wedlock, Amelia doesn't know who her father is, and Kate, for some reason that never really becomes clear, fails to share this information with her. While curious about her dad's identity, Amelia has other, more pressing issues about which to worry. For one thing, she has been tapped for membership in her ritzy private school's illicit all-girls club, a fact she's hiding from her best friend, Sylvia, as well as her mother. But when Kate receives a call from the school that she must leave a meeting and come pick up her daughter because good-girl Amelia has been suspended for cheating, Kate's world completely crumbles. Running late to collect her daughter, Kate doesn't arrive until pretty, smart, blonde Amelia has fallen from the school roof, a victim of her own failure. Or at least that's what the police are telling Kate, but she doesn't believe Amelia killed herself. When she receives an anonymous text message, it prompts her to prove that Amelia was murdered. The author tells the story in flashbacks, alternating between Kate's and Amelia's point of view, leading up to the day Amelia died. Although the expensive and exclusive school comes across as a cauldron out of hell and a bit over-the-top, the book never bogs down and comes to a seamless and unanticipated conclusion. 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.
“Did Amelia Baron really get caught cheating and then commit suicide—or is the truth more sinister? A nail-biter for Gone Girl fans.”
Jennifer McMahon
“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.”
“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.”
Entertainment Weekly
Gossip Girl meets Gone Girl.”
New York Times
“[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. ”
USA Today
“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.”
“Reconstructing Amelia will keep you hooked till the last page.”
Daily Candy
“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.”
Jodi Picoult
“Just finished a fantastic novel–Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. So. Well. Done. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love this too.” Staff Pick
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.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Kimberly McCreight’s debut novel shines a light on teen-girl culture.…I wanted to keep reading.”
“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.”
Library Journal
Kate Baron, a single mother and partner at a Manhattan law firm, is astonished to get a phone call about the suspension of her 15-year-old daughter, Amelia, previously an excellent student at a prestigious Brooklyn private school. But by the time Kate arrives at the school to pick her up, Amelia is dead in a fall from the roof. While the police investigation rules Amelia's death a suicide, Kate soon receives an anonymous text saying that Amanda didn't jump. Grieving, guilt-stricken, and desperate to better understand her daughter, Kate starts looking into recent events in Amelia's life, aided by a seasoned detective who reopens the case and discovers that the cruelty of teenagers pales next to adult vengeance. VERDICT Debut novelist McCreight tailors her format to her subject, sprinkling text messages and blog postings into a narrative that zigzags in chronology over a period of several months. Alternating perspectives from Kate and Amelia reveal the inner lives of a woman trying to balance motherhood with a demanding career and a teenager struggling with her blossoming sexuality while dealing with severe bullying. Despite a plot heavily dependent on coincidence, this is a compulsively readable novel that will appeal to Jodi Picoult fans. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/12.]—Michele Leber, Arlington, VA

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Reconstructing Amelia

By Kimberly McCreight

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Kimberly McCreight
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-222543-6

S E P T E M B E R 5 T H
Because there are 176 definitions for the word loser on
Don't Be a Statistic
Hey bitches!
Ah, the beginning of another school year. And I'm back with all the shit
that's not fit to print . . .
So while you've all been whiling away the summer in Southampton,
or on Nantucket or in the South of France, perfecting your tennis game or
your pas de deux, or training for your first marathon, or basking in your
latest chess championship, I've spent the summer keeping track of the back
and forth of our dear faculty members. Mr. Zaritski went out to UC Berke-
ley to teach at a science camp for crazy- smart kids. Word has it the parents
had him fired week two because he SMELLED. Mrs. Pearl took a Latin lover
and learned to pole dance in Miami. Kidding. She didn't actually have a
lover, of course. Who would ever want to sleep with her?
Ah, and sweet delicious Mr. Woodhouse. Who wouldn't have wanted
to see him in a Speedo somewhere? Alas, his whereabouts lo these sultry
months is unknown, though I have it on good authority that he spent at
least one long weekend snuggled up with our beloved English prof Liv. To
which I say, bravo.

2 K i m b e r l y M c C r e i g h t
As for all of you, I'll be covering a summer wrap- up as the updates flow
in over the next few days— and do send them along to gracefullyblog@ Because here we are, another year where every loser has the
chance to finally be cool and the fat kids might turn up skinny.
And the same old questions: Will lovely little Dylan ever come clean
about who she's screwing? Will Heather and Rachel ever admit they're
screwing each other? Will Zadie stay out of jail long enough to gradu-
ate? Which senior girl will our resident sophomore hottie Carter sleep with
first? And who is this Ian Greene and is he as sizzlin' as his meet book pic-
tures suggest? Outlook doubtful says my own personal eight ball. But y'all
will be the first to know.
In the meantime, keep those new shoes shiny and those smiles bright.
And buckle up. Because it's going to be one hell of a ride . . .


Excerpted from Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. Copyright © 2013 Kimberly McCreight. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reconstructing Amelia 4 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 243 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely a MUST to read! Leaves you on the edge of your seat and keeps you hooked all the way through. An ending you never saw coming and so many twists & turns. Outstanding!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every now and then you read a book that surprises you for just how unique it is. A story that sets itself apart from any other. This book was that for me. Some reviewers were disappointed with the end. I wasn't. I honestly don't think the end matters. This book is about relationships, about lost opportunities and forgiveness. It is about finding out who we are by learning about who the people we loved really were and still finding a way to live with our mistakes and the 'what if's'. A fantastic story, terrific writing, and a book and characters that keep you thinking. You cannot ask for more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing was absolutely horrid. I couldn't stomach the way the writer was trying SO HARD to sound like she knows how teens/young adults talk -- she missed the mark by A LOT. This is the last sentence I read and gave up (this is supposed to be a 24 year old IT guy who works at one of the top law firms in New York…but is also a stoner...): "...Because you don't want to like [sic] get into the deets of your kid's Facebook page. I mean, I'm twenty-four, and I'm a pretty scrubbed-up guy and whatevs, but my 'rents would stroke out if they saw my whole page. You've gotta filter it for ma and pa. I mean, who wants to see their kid doing body shots, like, ever?" There are grammatical and spelling errors riddled throughout the book, which drove me bananas. Sentence structure was that of somebody who has never written before. The plot could have been interesting, but the writing was just too much to get past. Also, this is definitely not a book that should be marketed towards adults. Her "trying-to-be-hip-and-with-it" lingo will turn off the younger crowd as well...Definitely not recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reconstructing Amelia is a story of Kate, a successful lawyer and single mom, and her teenage daughter Amelia who is smart, creative and athletic. The two have a close relationship despite Kate’s profession and long hours. Then, Kate receives a call from Amelia’s school saying that Amelia has been suspended for cheating. When Kate arrives, she learns that Amelia has jumped from the roof of the school in an apparent suicide. But one day, Kate receives a text that says that Amelia didn’t jump. Kate then sets out to reconstruct her daughter’s life and find out the truth which plunges the reader into the world of teenagers – social media, friendships and bullying. She uncovers a side of her daughter that she didn’t know. She begins to question how much she really knew her daughter, what she could have done to prevent this, and why Amelia didn’t come talk to her.  I was drawn into the novel from the beginning and couldn't put it down. The book alternates between Kate's perspective and Amelia's and also uses a number of narrative devices such a blog posts, Facebook updates, tweets and emails to tell the story which I found gave the story more texture by reflecting how we communicate and find out information today. The story is heartbreaking and it addresses many important topics such as bullying, sexuality, role of technology and social media in teen culture. Ultimately, it's about the complex relationship between children and parents and how much we truly know about our children. This is an incredible debut novel for Kimberley McCreight. 
MAP1 More than 1 year ago
An extraordinary book. A compelling mixture of very fast-paced action interwoven with a subtle exposition of the key relationship in the story: the one between the mothera and her daughter. Many twists and turns in the plot, this story just gripped my attention from the very beginning. A must-read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book, based on the overview, but unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. The book went at a good, fast pace but then the ending was so predictable, that I was completely left saying "Is that all there is"? Overall the book was fair.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall this was an enjoyable read that kept me turning the pages. The story does not seem to be realistic about how a police investigation would be handled and the author seems to want to hit every "hot topic". The characters are intriguing.
Perdita9 More than 1 year ago
Color me unimpressed. The setup for this book was great--overachieving, fifteen year old, straight A student, Amelia, commits suicide after being accused of plagerism. It's up to high-powered attorney and mom, Kate, to sort through text messages and emails to figure out what happened. The pacing is very good, making the book a page turner, but there are problems. Kate and Amelia don't come across as real people. In addition, Kate isn't particularly likable. She got pregnant in law school and elected to become a single mom despite her plans to pursue an intense legal career which left her little time for Amelia. Also, she never told Amelia who her father is, in fact, she's not even sure. By the end of the book I was rolling my eyes, thinking I'd stumbled into a Lifetime movie with endless plot twists in a game of "Who's Your Daddy?" Amelia's classmates are such over the top bullies they should be working as comic book villains. For a while I even suspected one of them, Dylan--Amelia's lover, as being a robot. Her behavior was THAT inexplicable. Not recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THIS MAY CONTAIN A SPOILER...I read a review that compared this to "Gone Girl"....but if you're expecting that kind of blow-you-away twist ending, you'll be disappointed. Great writing, round characters, but I was disappointed by the resolution, and I felt like too many red herrings were put out there to mislead readers. Totally engrossed while I was reading, but when I reached the end I was let down.
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
Ok. So I really liked this book - well, everything except for the main character, Kate. Kate is a high powered litigation attorney fully enmeshed in BigLaw. She's also a single mother raising a teenage daughter. Her daughter, Amelia, goes to an exclusive private school in Brooklyn - because Manhattan is too staid and it's hipper to got to a rich school in Brooklyn. One day, Amelia is found dead - jumped off the roof - presumably a suicide. Kate then has to reconstruct Amelia's life and come to terms with how little she knew of her daughter. Kate is self aware enough to know that she hasn't always been there for Amelia - in fact, she's rarely there for Amelia. She works long hours and leaves Amelia to eat alone most days of the week. But Kate kids herself into thinking that it's quality of time and not quantity of time that matters. That despite the fact she's rarely with Amelia, they're best friends and that Amelia tells her everything. Reconstructing Amelia's death highlights to Kate how wrong she was. And that she knew very little of Amelia at all. But what remains strong is her belief that she knew her daughter enough to know it wasn't suicide and fights to know the truth.  Overall, the book was well written and the characters nicely flushed out. There were too many red herrings at times, but it was, in general, a really good and exciting read. 
MMsMom More than 1 year ago
This book was an interesting read, although somewhat heartbreaking to think about if you have a teen daughter. The book captures your attention right from the beginning and you can't help but to continue reading to find out what will be happening next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know where to start... this book grabbed my attention and held it all of the way through. It's one of those great finds that make you read for hours to figure out everything and then when you finish you wish there was even more because you don't want to leave the characters behind. People in high school and older ( I'm 26) will be able to enjoy this book. I hope this author continues writing on this level. You will not regret picking this up.
fireflymom More than 1 year ago
As far as mysteries go, this one had me flipping through trying to figure out the ending.  That was good, and it IS a good book.  However, it had been compared to Gone Girl and it is not. that. good.  Enjoyable read though, and I liked reading it through the Mother's perspective as well as the daughters.  I would recommend it, but I  wouldn't say it was comparable to Gone Girl (If you haven't read that, you should!).  
Anonymous 3 months ago
Anonymous 7 months ago
A great read, couldn't put it down. Suspenseful until the very end. Well written, looking forward to read more from this author.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Anonymous 8 months ago
Great book. Quick, interesting story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too young adult, even for this young adult fan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Considering this book was about a super smart lawyer who lost her daughter in a very suspicious way, I found it totally unrealistic that so many aspects of the investigation were overlooked (it took the mother weeks after her daughter's death to decide to look thru her daughter's texts and computer?) I also found too many half-baked characters and storylines. Did this super smart attorney really sleep with two work colleagues during the same time? Not smart and not in keeping with her character's persona. And what was the condition that seemed to be at the heart of Zadie's and Dylan's relationship? The whole book seemed like a long, dizzy ride to nowhere with a bunch of uninteresting people. I gave a 2 star review because I thought the format was novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
camping12 More than 1 year ago
I loved the story couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved reading this book.. while i wasnt crazy about the switch from past and present and chapters from different character perspectives, it kept my full attention and was suspenseful and thrilling. Twists and turns kept it exciting. It provoked thought and emotiin as a mom reading about a mom's relatiinship with her daughter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The way this story is formatted is a bit confusing at first but then once you get into it it is amazing. I could not put it down, even in class. It was absolutely amazing. It is totally fast paced and it will keep you on your toes wondering what happened to Amelia until the very last page.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book hits the subject of teenage cruelty head-on. We have all been there, whether recieving or delivering the torture.