Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight (book review) – not a suicide, not a chance

book cover of Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight published by HarperPrivate school academic pressure
or vicious peer pressure?
What sent Amelia over the edge?

First love isn’t always easy or simple. Lifelong friendships may break apart or simply drift away during high school. Parents don’t know what their children experience every minute; kids don’t think that their parents were ever in such predicaments. Told in several voices, Amelia’s story is both familiar and unusual, with an outcome you might expect, but an ending you won’t guess.

On her website, author Kimberly McCreight asks folks to post “what would you tell your mother or your daughter” – anonymously, if need be –  if they could only find the courage or the right words or the right time, sharing the conversations on her Facebook page, hoping that the right time is sooner rather than too late.

This mystery-tragedy jumped onto the bestseller lists before I could finish this post, so you should easily find it at your local library or favorite independent bookstore now.

Is it ever too late to say the right thing?

Book info: Reconstructing Amelia / Kimberly McCreight. Harper, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer]

My book talk: Amelia would never cheat, so why would she take her own life before fighting against the false accusation? As her mother tries to uncover the truth about her death, pieces of Amelia that no one knew begin to surface through emails, text messages, and notes.

Known as an over-achiever even by Grace Hall school standards, Amelia writes thoughtful, compelling essays all the time, so the idea that she plagiarized an entire English paper about her favorite author is absurd. Her mother rushes from her law office to the posh private school when notified of her suspension for cheating, only to find that the fifteen-year-old hadn’t survived a fall from the roof. Amelia – suicide?

An anonymous text message “Amelia didn’t jump” pulls Kate from her haze of grief, as the single mother realizes that there are parts missing from the story surrounding her daughter’s death and decides that she must get to the bottom of things. With the help of a new police detective, her law firm’s IT department, and interviews with students and parents, a chilling picture emerges, centered on the social clubs which Grace Hall insists are not official school organizations.

Why did Amelia feel under so much pressure?
Who did she fall in love with and hide from everyone?
Why did she stop sharing secrets with her best friend?
What really went on with Dylan, Zaidie and the other Magpies Club girls?

This riveting story of peer pressure, indiscretions, cover-ups, and missteps on Amelia’s voyage of self-discovery is told through her diary entries, Facebook updates, text messages, emails, notes shoved in her locker, a particularly snarky blog devoted to Grace Hall gossip, plus Kate’s narrative and her own college diary.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

6 thoughts on “Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight (book review) – not a suicide, not a chance

    • I heard Kimberly discussing it at Texas Library Association Conference in April and had to grab a copy!
      The mix of text messages, journal entries, notes on scrap paper, and conversations is a very interesting way to tell the story.


  1. Thanks for visiting, Francene! That’s the whole idea of BooksYALove: introduce books worth reading, without giving away the ending… and the ending of this one is wow…


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