Thursday, April 18, 2013

book review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

The basics: When Kate, a successful lawyer, gets a call during an important client meeting that her daughter has been suspended, she's in disbelief. By the time she arrives at the school to pick Amelia up, Amelia is dead, apparently from jumping off the school's roof. As more information emerges, however, it becomes clear all is not as it seems with Amelia.

My thoughts: Billing Reconstructing Amelia as this year's Gone Girl, a marketing device I typically avoid, doesn't do this novel justice. While it does share some similarities with Gillian Flynn's blockbuster (my review), it reads like an utterly original mash-up of Gone Girl, Where'd You Go, Bernadette? and Gossip Girl. The novel taps into a sense of "wait, what's real?" and immediately gives the reader the sense she doesn't know exactly what she should believe. In terms of plot, however, I was struck by the similarities to Maria Semple's divine comedy Where'd You Go, Bernadette? In Reconstructing Amelia, the mystery is much darker, and it's Kate, the mother, left to piece together Amelia's life through the messages she left behind.

McCreight's writing shines throughout this novel. As the novel unfolds in alternating chapters with Kate and Amelia, I was amazed how well-formed each character was. Each woman has a distinctive, authentic voice from the novel's first pages.There's always a joy encountering characters who love books as much as I do, and Amelia is one of those characters: "Clothes were to Sylvia what books were to me: the only thing that really mattered." Writing the inner thoughts of a fifteen-year-old is challenging, yet McCreight manages to both nail it and keep Amelia's sections from reading like a young adult novel.

The verdict: Reconstructing Amelia is an addictive thriller combined with a moving story of the relationship between a mother and teenage daughter. That McCreight manages both stories equally well is a testament to her writing and character development.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 400 pages
Publication date: April 2, 2013
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy Reconstructing Amelia from the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version.)

Want more? Check out the entire tour, visit Kimberly McCreight's website, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. Yep, I am going to have to read this one. The Gone Girl hype made me question it because I did not care for Gone Girl.

  2. Hmm..this one probably would not have caught my attention at first given the dark content. However, you make it sounds pretty damn good. I loved Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, but didn't necessarily feel like each character had their own voice. It's been a minute so I could be wrong. Sounds like a challenge. I'll let you know if I pick it up.

  3. I am really excited about this one, and it seems to be the hot read of the month. I loved Gone Girl, and since I'm silly, I bought into that hype. :) I will have to see how fast I can make time for this one. Excellent and enticing review today. I am so glad you loved it!

  4. Definitely plan to read this one as well. Love school settings in novels.

  5. "Mash-up of Gone Girl, Where'd You Go, Bernadette? and Gossip Girl" definitely makes me want to read it! I will have to look for this one.

  6. Hmmm...I think I might need this for the summer. Gone Girl seems too tense and unlikable for me, but I'm intrigued by this one.

  7. Wow, that is certainly an original mashup of some great books! I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as you did.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  8. I've been sort of away from the blogosphere lately so hadn't read much about this, but the comparisons make it sound great. We JUST listened to Where'd You Go Bernadette (finished yesterday) on the way home from a road trip so that combined with Gone Girl sounds good!


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