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.
©2013 Kimberly McCreight (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
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.
This would have been a better book if the characters were more realistic. This isn't a book with characters as much as it is one with goofy caricatures of rich people.
Kind, sporty, rich, unique, humble, beautiful, incredibly smart Amelia and her incredibly ambitious yet kind-hearted, gentle but tough, beautiful, successful single mother Kate act as the foil to pretty much every other character in the book. Besides Amelia and Kate, every character is portrayed as being so wildly and obviously unlikeable that the ensuing melodrama is predictable and boring. Even Amelia's "likable" best friend is vicious, selfish, vengeful, manipulative, crude, and petty.
For example, dialogue between Amelia and her best friend Sylvia usually seesaws between Sylvia saying something impossibly rude (about Amelia not having a father/Amelia being a virgin/Amelia being smart/Amelia's mom working long hours) and then Amelia apologizing.The relationships between the characters make no sense. Even the relationship between Amelia and Kate is confusing and unrealistic.
A good mystery should allow for some mystery. By blatantly pushing for sympathy toward Amelia/Kate and disdain toward Gretchen/Zady/Zady's mom/Zady's dad/Sylvia/Magpies in general/school administrators/Ms Pearl/the first detective/boys in general/adolescents in general/etc, "Reconstructing Amelia" really allows for no imagination or thought.
The only mercy in this book is that Amelia dies. Unfortunately, it is a slow death (about 12 hours and 15 minutes).
I am not good at writing book reviews, but this book was wonderful. The story, the narration, both were excellent. Looking forward to reading another book by this author.
This story was powerful and hit close to home as an educator. I see this drama all the time and it makes me so mad that kids continue to do hateful things to each other. If young ladies read this perhaps they will have a little empathy for their fellow humans instead of becoming a husk of a corpse that walks and talks with little to no emotional connection.
Addicted to Audible!
Khristine Hvam could read the dictionary to me and I would be happy! She saved this audiobook from total mediocrity! The story reminded me of a 2013 version of the "afterschool movie of the week" from 30 yrs ago. Same basic premiss of adolescent bullying that went on when I was in HS, just updated with cyberbullying, homosexuality and working parents. It would have been more interesting if it was better edited and a few non-important characters were left out. I think that a teen might enjoy this book and it could open up a discussion for parents to explore boundaries. For my adult bookclub it was a poor selection, thankfully not mine.
Initially I found the book interesting, but then it all went downhill with an ending that was simply ridiculous. There were too many holes, none of the characters made sense, nor did they warrant any sympathy, and the "Epilogue" was so predictable that it was almost not worth reading. In fact, about 3/4 way through the book I thought about returning it, which is not my style. So I finished it and felt like I had been forced to watch some sappy made for TV movie. Sometimes I wonder what publishers are looking for when they read first-time manuscripts.
I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
I'm guessing teenage girls might like this, but after 15 minutes of the snivelling voice actress, I gave up. I don't wanna go back to high school with this group of people.
Avid listener on my daily commute!
One of the surprise hits of my past year of Audible listening. Probably ranks #9 out of my top 10 all-time favorites, after The Girl With All The Gifts, The Secret Keeper, State of Wonder, Big Little Lies, The Husband's Secret, and the rest of Liane Moriarty's work.
The frequent switching back and forth in POV between Amelia and Kate, ensuring the reader/listener never lost the thread of the narrative, or forgot which major revelation had just occurred in past or present.
The penultimate scene, on the rooftop, when the truth of what happened to Amelia is finally revealed.
Yes....and I nearly did! Downloaded the ibook so that I could continue reading at night in bed.
If you LOATHE teenaged-girl politics, or are extremely squeamish about the idea of teenagers having sex, please avoid! You would hate it. I DO very much dislike both those things, so the book was difficult to accept/get through in parts.
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, etc....how 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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