Review: Reconstructing Amelia


Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia
By Kimberly McCreight
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062225436, April 2013, 400pp.)

The Short of It:

Is it possible to know everything about a person? What if that person is your own daughter? For Kate Baron, she thought she could answer these questions without hesitation, but when disaster strikes and so many questions are left unanswered, she’s forced to admit that she doesn’t know her daughter that well after all.

The Rest of It:

Critics everywhere have said that Reconstructing Amelia is the next Gone Girl. After reading both, I have to disagree because I thought Reconstructing Amelia was quite a bit better and overall, handled a little more realistically as far at the plot itself, but I still had some issues with it.

Without giving it all away, I can tell you that Kate is a type A personality. She’s a very successful lawyer, raising a teenage daughter by herself. She’s  a concerned parent but routinely unavailable for Amelia even though they have their weekly movie nights at home. Amelia is a good student and is sensible for the most part, but when she is chosen to join a secret club at school, her judgement goes out the window and she ends up in quite a bit of trouble, Trouble, that she tries to handle on her own. When she is accused of plagiarism, Kate can’t believe it. Amelia would never cheat. As Kate makes her way to the school to discuss the incident, She’s more mad than anything,  but when she gets there, the news she is given is even more horrible than what she imagined.

I must tell you that this book has a very Young Adult feel to it, even though it’s not being marketed to that audience. To me, books in that genre tend to take everyday acts and blow them completely out of proportion. Granted, a lot of what happens to Amelia is horrible but it’s a tad overdramatized and there were times where I just wanted to shake the girl. The same can be said of Kate. She’s the adult in this equation and yet, she had a very young feel to her. I didn’t completely buy her character and she frustrated me because she truly seems so clueless at times.

However, what I think McCreight nailed is how quickly things can get out of hand and how awful kids at that age can be to one another. The presence of social media has made bullying a 24/7 act and the unrelenting nature of that type of bullying makes it nearly impossible to escape from. I felt the desperation of these characters and how hopeless such a situation would be but it bothered me that Amelia continued to make bad choices right up until the end.

Criticism aside, it was a page turner. I read it while reading two other books and I found myself giving this book a little more attention than the others. But if you are at all annoyed by DRAMA and in that I mean teen drama, then this may not be the book for you. There is lots of drama and some language, although the language did not bother me at all. Nor did the conversations about sex which were actually pretty tame. The actions of some of the adults in the book will infuriate you so be prepared for that but overall, I felt it was an impressive debut.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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27 thoughts on “Review: Reconstructing Amelia”

    1. The Girl drama in this one seems pretty spot on, based on what my son has told me about high school.

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    1. I listened to some of it on audio too. The reader did a pretty good job with it.

      I am listening to one know and the reading is just horrible! I am going to switch to the printed version. (Last Summer of the Camperdowns)

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    1. I was slightly annoyed with the teen drama stuff at first. I mean, I have plenty in my own household but then I got pulled in once the story really got going.

      What did you think of the men in the book? Sort of shady, huh?

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  1. I’ve been debating whether or not to read this one for a while. I’m no closer to making a decision, lol.

    1. LOL. You have to be in the mood for all the angst. I listened to part of it on audio and the reader did a pretty good job with it. I think it’s odd that so many compare it to Gone Girl though. It’s not at all like Gone Girl really.

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  2. I will probably skip this one — I’m not wild about ‘domestic thrillers’ — I’m too imaginative — but it does sound good. I’m getting this for my wife, who loves these kinds of intensely emotional thriller-y books.

    1. I hear ya. This one really walked along the edge of being YA. I am surprised that many book sites have not listed it as such. I am not a fan of YA so at first I was not impressed, but it did grow on me.

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  3. I actually thought this was an YA novel! Thank you for your insightful review, Ti. I’ve been going back and forth about whether to read this book or not–and while I’m still not sure, I feel like I have a better feel for the book based on your review.

    And the Gone Girl comparison . . . I don’t quite get that, but then, I don’t get a lot of comparisons made between books.

  4. I have way too much drama in my house, but I don’t think that would stop me from reading this. I DO have it on my shelves, I just haven’t had time to squeeze it in. I will most likely be the last person to read it, but I will read it.

  5. I had to send this book back to the library unread. I plan to pick it up sometime. But it does bug me that the book had a YA-feel to it. I’ve read one other book like that – marketed to adults but written as if YA and that bugged me start to finish. We’ll see how this one works out.

    1. With the cover and all, I figured it was YA when I picked it up but wanted something dark so I kept it. But everywhere I look it’s not listed as YA. I think it might do better if it was marketed that way.

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  6. Oh lordy, we’ve just moved, finally, out of teen drama in our house. I’m not sure I’m ready to start reading about it!

  7. It’s strange to see this compared to Gone Girl… I didn’t realize it was a thrilller of sorts. Someone recommended it for me last week but I didn’t like Gone Girl (weak plot), the ending did makeup for the entire book though!

    I was the only one I knew who didn’t enjoy Gone Girl, until my book club read it. That was reassuring!

    I might try this one though – looks like a quick read.

  8. This book is comparable to Gone Girl – ugh! That alone makes me not want to read it, however I am really interested in finding out what happened. So, I’ll probably kindle it at some point. Sounds like it’ll be a fluff read for me when I’m in a book rut or something.

    1. I can see why the publisher might want it to be associated with Gone Girl because although I hated that book, it sold a lot of copies. But so many bloggers have said RA is like GG too. I don’t see it.

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  9. I would consider this book. I loved GG and know you didn’t but this sounds interesting and I like to see if my reactions are similar to yours.

    Publishers want their product to be like the ‘hot reading sensation’ just so they can get associated even if not really alike or alike on minor things, yes?

    1. I think it it still would have been a popular pick even without the GG comparison but I can understand why a publisher would feel the need to guarantee it.

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  10. Ti — I should get on this novel before it comes out as a movie. I could use something fast and this one sounds like it … thx for the review

  11. “I must tell you that this book has a very Young Adult feel to it, even though it’s not being marketed to that audience. To me, books in that genre tend to take everyday acts and blow them completely out of proportion. ” You caught my attention with these lines because these are exactly the reason why YA novels have been easily dismissed by me, unless they are Beth Kephart books and those like her who tackle topics that should be and are not done by talking down to the audience.

    I have seen this book around, and I’ve thought about picking it up, but I might simmer on that thought a little longer.

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