Reconstructing Amelia- Week 1 Questions/Thoughts

recon amelia

It’s here! It’s here! The day we thought would never arrive! Throwing confetti in the air, pouring glasses of champagne kind of day- Book Lovers Unite Online Book Club begins!

Reminder: We’ll only be discussing the assigned reading for the week- and this post (Week 1) is the place to discuss. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

I began reading last night on the Kindle- and I’m enjoying so far!

Questions and Thoughts:

1. From the first page- I’m getting the feeling that RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA has a Gossip Girl/The Skulls/possibly a Mean Girls feel- is anyone else picking up on those movie/TV shows feelings?

2. Let’s talk about first thoughts of this cover: It’s dramatic. It’s interesting. It’s fitting for the book (at least my first impressions). Sometimes a cover does not match up with the book- did the cover art folks for Reconstructing Amelia nail it or not? (It’s ok if you change your mind later on- we’re going on first impressions here!)

3. The title- Reconstructing Amelia- a simple, yet poignant title. Reconstructing means to put something back together in the simplest terms- so the title is telling. However, is there a possibility that there is going to be more to this title?

4. We’ll discuss this as the month goes on; but what are your thoughts on teenagers, social media, and their parents? Is the teenagers just having normal “teenage rebellion”? Or is social media adding an extra layer to the normal “teenage rebellion” and making interactions between teenagers and parents harder?

5. What do you think of how the school environment is portrayed? Is this an accurate look? Or is this more of an East Coast prep school type portrayal that we see in books and movies? Is it a stereotype or is it accurate?

I can’t wait to see everyone’s thoughts and opinions!

47 thoughts on “Reconstructing Amelia- Week 1 Questions/Thoughts

  1. Carrie Rice says:

    I have lots to say, but first I want to give props to McCreight for really nailing the teen dialect. She has it down with Sylvia especially. She reminds me of one of my students.
    Also, do we think the cover pic is of Kate or Amelia? It could be either I guess. Love the cover, love the darkness.
    Definitely reminds me of all of those shows you mentioned. What about Pretty Little liars?

    • Carrie- Yes, let’s def give major snaps to Kimberly McCreight for writing this book!

      Sylvia is def a teenager- I’m enjoying her- and yet wanting to tell her to quit being so b*tchy to Amelia at times.

      Interesting- I just assumed that the cover was Amelia- it was from something that Kate said about how Amelia looked- BUT, it could be Kate.
      I, too, love the cover. I think it’s brilliant- and while it’s not a cover like some books that I want to frame (b/c let’s face it- some of these covers are beautiful as art!) THIS cover speaks to me. And I feel accurately describes the book. Of course that remains to be seen- I just have a feeling!

      Pretty Little Liars would also be a show that I’d think of- I’ve just never watched it ( although I’ve seen the ads!)

  2. First – great pick for the 1st book. It’s so compelling – I wanted to keep reading, but made myself stop until I answered the questions!

    1. I haven’t actually seen any of the shows/movies you mentioned, but have heard of them and yes, I get the feeling that there’s the theme of snotty girls thinking they’re all that!

    2. I love the cover – it just pulls you in. Who is it and why are they hiding? T – like you, I just assumed it was Amelia, but as Carrie pointed out, it could be Kate. Maybe Kate’s hiding b/c she doesn’t really want to know all that she’s probably going to find out about Amelia as she starts digging into her life.

    3. I definitely think there’s going to be more going on then just Kate reconstructing Amelia’s life. I think she’s going to find out a lot about herself along the way and end up becoming a different person.

    4. While I don’t have kids, I do have a niece that’s a teenager and I really worry about her and all the social media. She’s on fb and twitter and quite frankly – it’s scary. So much of what kids do nowadays ends up out there for all the world to see and I don’t think they understand the repercussions of this.

    5. I think the school is an accurate portrayal of schools today. Maybe some more than others, but I definitely think there is bullying and cliques and underground clubs happening in the schools and most times the staff and parents are completely unaware.

    These are great discussion questions – definitely got me thinking about a lot and I will keep these in mind as I continue to read. Is this how we are doing the discussions – just answering the questions here?

    A thought I had that you didn’t bring up – how much does Kate’s mom factor into the way Kate mothers or I should say mothered, Amelia?

    • Kristin T:

      Thank you! I think this is going to be a great book- I picked it because I was wanting something “twisty”- and I def think it’ll live up to the hype (hopefully!)

      1. Gossip Girl is a fun show- snotty, snarky and more- over the top at times- but that’s part of it’s charm. I wasn’t a big watcher- but I go through spells of watching. The Skulls, on the other hand, is a 1999/2000 movie- Joshua Jackson/Paul Walker- you should DEF watch it at some point. It’s entertaining!
      With the East coast prep themes, and then the Mean Girls interaction- I felt these shows/movies could pair nicely with a further understanding of RA.

      2.YES! I LOVE the cover. It almost makes me sad that I have RA on Kindle as that I cannot fully appreciate the cover! Major snaps to Carrie for pointing out that it could be Kate. I’m very interested to see where our discussion could lead with book and cover! An excellent point about Kate hiding re;Amelia digging in her life!

      3. Agreed. I think the title, while it sounds complex, is going to be almost too simplistic for this book- Kimberly McCreight, I believe, has something exciting planned for us as we read!

      4.Teens and social media- I just really don’t think we, as society, have a full understanding about the potential pitfalls of social media- so how can we expect teens to? I’m just glad SM wasn’t around during my teen years!

      5. I think some of it is an accurate portrayal, some of it’s an stereotypical thought. But, the interactions with the students- I think Kim nailed that! Of course, I’ve never been to a “prep” school- my only experience is with shows like Gossip Girl, Gilmore Girls and things of that nature. And it’s been some years since I have been in HS myself πŸ˜‰

      Thank you! Yes, this is how we will do this. Each Fri, I’ll post questions/thoughts for us to consider as we read the week’s reading- BUT, you may ask questions as well (or make a comment that I did not cover)- I’m trying to do more open-ended questions- as opposed to ones that will have us just saying “yes” and “no”. Just like how you’ve asked about Kate’s mother- please keep on with that type of stuff!

      To answer your question about Kate’s mother- I think, from what I’ve read so far that it factors in a lot. But, and I’m not a mother- don’t we all say that if/when we have kids we’ll do it better? Different than our moms do? While I do think some moms are toxic- for the most part- mom’s do the best they can- sometimes their best is just not as good as they wished, tho.

      This morning I finished the “assigned” reading and I’m going to start making notes and re-reading sections. Before I move on in the book!

      • I ended up buying the book because I wasn’t sure how it was going to be only reading a little bit at a time, and then if I wanted to go back and look something up or mark something – still not confident doing that on the kindle. Plus, I do like having the book in my hands.

        I agree with you on being glad the whole SM wasn’t around when I was a teenager. Life is hard enough at that age without adding that whole dimension to it!

      • Price was my motivation- when I bought RA, it was almost 10 bucks cheaper on Kindle than hardcover. I *may* 1 day get RA in hardcover- if I see it on bargain book.
        I’m a fan of “real” books- but I’m ok with Kindle as well. My brother bought me a Kindle in the hopes that I would not need more bookshelves. It’s helped some- but not completely.

        Oh yeah- exactly! Life is hard enough without SM around during teenage years!

  3. Ok here I go–

    I’m not a fan of any of those shows so can’t comment.

    The cover is great but it had nothing to do with my wanting to read.

    I think of the title differently after reading 90 something pages. I think it’s about Kate putting together the pieces of Amelia’s life she was blind to.

    I have 3 kids, and social media is part,of their life. I monitor what my son,15, puts out there, my girls,are in college so while I “see” what they do they are more independent. Texting is another issue but again I’m not one to monitor even my sons every move.

    I think the school and the teen voice has been nicely done, brutally accurate.

    I’m disturbed that the police and school just so quickly accepted suicide…really?

    It was hard to,out the book down, and keep this fresh for further discussion.

    • Hey Anita-

      1. Seriously- at least watch The Skulls (just the first 1) it’s a neat look into secret societies!

      2. Covers play a big role for me- I mean the description is the main draw- but the cover sets my expectations a certain way.

      3. That’s kind of what I figured the title is referring to- maybe not necessarily Kate (maybe everyone figuring out Amelia); but I’m reserving complete judgement on title until I read entire book.

      4. I know some parents who “monitor” and some who don’t. It’s a complicated issue. It’s a fine line between “trusting” and being oblivious- some parents ace it, some fail. It’s an issue I’m glad I don’t have to think on (as I don’t have kids).

      5. I think the school environment is pretty accurate (it’s different than my school).But, with all of us that I *know* that are participating in the discussion- I figure we’ve all had different school backgrounds.

      Agree- I think the school and police accepted too quickly- it reminds me, though, of NEVER TELL- the school was quick to close ranks after a girl’s suicide ( the schools in these stories are of that East Coast prep type).

      I KNOW! I finished the assigned reading- then read a chapter or so more. What I’m going to do is make notes about thoughts and stuff for each section- it’s a bit more work, but at least I’ll be able to keep it straight!

  4. Carrie Rice says:

    Unfortunately, the school environment is extremely accurate. Sorry I didn’t mention that before. I love reading books about school. I’m obsessed. Prob why I became a teacher (:

    • Don’t worry about not mentioning it- the questions/thoughts I post- you don’t HAVE to comment on each part- I like to put as many open-ended questions/thoughts I can- and just kind of see where things go!

      Off Topic: Carrie- what do you teach? High school/elementary?

  5. My fiancΓ© picked out this book at the book store for me. It was sitting next to Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – which I read and devored in less then a week. I loved it! So, he thought I’d enjoy this one.

    The cover is very dark and got my attention because of the dark contrast with the lettering and the half ripped picture of Amelia’s face.

    Social Media and parents… hmm. I’m not a parent. But, I know my parents trusted me when I’d get on the internet. When I was younger they would monitor me and ask I got older… well, I have a degree in multi-media. So, I’d hope my parents trusted me. lol. I also didn’t have a cell phone in high school either… I didn’t get that till college.

    I don’t know anything about prep schools… I went to public. But this def has a gossip girl feel to it and I loved that show. I have the first book and haven’t read it yet. I will one day… ha ha!

    • Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects- great book! Have you read Gone Girl or Dark Places yet?

      I LOVE this cover. I really do. Dark, a bit spooky- and lets the reader know that there is something exciting waiting!

      My parents trusted me when I began on the internet- of course, it was just not quite as big of a thing as it is now. Trust is important- but also being involved in your kids life is equally important.

      I actually don’t know anything about prep schools either- I did not go to a school like that either. But, it def sounds like a Gossip Girl style school!

      Thanks for coming to the discussion!

      • I own dark places but haven’t read it yet. I will eventally. I also got gone girl for Christmas.

        I love how when I was little and it was nice out my parents made me play outside. Now… they have all kinds of stuff that they can do in doors – sitting down. I sometimes think that is a lot of the problem.

      • Gillian Flynn- I just can’t say enough good things about her!

        Agreed. Sometimes I do think the technology, while opening our worlds in ways we used to never imagine, has also closed our worlds in some ways.

  6. Finally caught up on the reading! Ok let me jump in!

    I’m loving the book so far but it’s a bit of a tough read for me personally. I am a product of the east coast/NYC prep school scene – none of the schools mentioned by Kimberly – but so far it’s an accurate portrayal of how “we” looked at and perceived the world around us. some is exaggerated but all in all pretty accurate. It was very cliquey and those cliques/girls were focused on tearing down anyone who was different……

    While my 10 yr old is not into social media yet we do monitor her Internet use very closely – more for her safety and well being than anything else. I think that will continue as she gets older – while I want to trust her I also know how insidious and pervasive bullying and social media can be….

    The other tough part for me is we just dealt with E being bullied this year. It starts so young with girls and is painful to watch your child going through it.

    I love the cover! Definitely makes a statement and I think the title is as Anita said Kate trying to piece together Amelia’s life.

    I do know that I didn’t want to stop reading!

    • I think I’ll enjoy your view on this one Jennifer, with your east coast background. I’m sorry E was bullied, and yes it does start young and kids are viscous!

      • Thanks Anita. Gossip Girl was actually based on a school that I left after Sixth Grade. The private school I graduated from was more academically rigorous but still cliquey. But yes I am a “by-product” of the schools they are talking about in this book. Happy to keep chiming in on east coast things πŸ™‚

    • Hey Jen πŸ™‚

      So as I’ve said before, prep school is not something I’ve had experience with. I think cliques and stuff like that exist in all schools (trust me- even in those small-town schools!) BUT- I find it so interesting. Now slightly off topic- you know I’ve been reading Prep for a year and still haven’t finished- and that life of prep school is interesting, but not like RA, Gossip Girl, etc.

      I think social media is great- but I do wonder about some of these parents that seem to either not have a clue or care so much about their kids being on SM. I think as SM evolves- we’re going to see more and more discussions about the impact on social media and children.

      Bullying (or relational aggression) is tough. E’s getting to that age where the girls start separating off and being cliquey. I hate that kids can be cruel. 😦 Tell E to hold her head high! And give her lots of hugs!

      I’m glad we are all loving the cover πŸ™‚

      I haven’t read anymore (yet) but it was VERY hard to put down!

      • k2reader says:

        Oh no…I have Prep sitting on my bookshelf – just haven’t found time to read it yet. Now I’m not sure about it…I did love her other book, American Wife.

      • Oh no- I don’t want to talk you out of reading Prep. The girl who gave me Prep kept saying “you’ll love it, you’ll love it”. So I began reading and I found the main character a bit whiny, annoying- and I don’t know- I understood some of her teenage angst- but some of it……
        Now, I still have about a 100 pages- and I will finish it. One day. But, as it stands Prep is not quite my cup of tea. I haven’t read American Wife (I’m a bit gun shy about Curtis because of Prep!)

        Let me know when you read Prep because 2 things: I want to know what you think and I’ve just been struck with an idea- I’ll email you later πŸ™‚

  7. Hey There! I finished the first 100 pages of Reconstructing Amelia and I am hooked! As a mom of 18 and 13 year old teenage boys (I also have an 11 yr. old boy) I am noticing a bit of a difference obviously in the way they talk versus the way Amelia and her girlfriends talk but, the peer pressure is similar. The fight I have with myself constantly involving the boys and their phones and also social media is one that is a work in progress for me. Sometimes I do surprise checks on their phones just to see what they are up to before they have a chance to delete and I have found a few things. Not HORRIBLE things, just typical things I would expect to see but that I don’t want them seeing or doing! Other times, esp. with the 18 yr. old, I struggle checking and invading his privacy too much. I look forward to seeing how my feelings change as I continue to read about Kate and Amelia’s story. The cover is haunting. I like it very much based on what I have read so far. I think the person is Kate. Based on her description and the fact that the face on the front of the book has brown eyes and not one green one blue eye like Amelia had. The name of the book is perfect to me because this is what this mother is doing: reconstructing the life and feelings of the daughter she mistakenly thought she knew so well. It will be hard to not read ahead but I am going to try not to. I will get more into A Hundred Summers and try not to pick this book up again until Friday! Loving this book and the club! Kristin

    • Hey klicense πŸ™‚

      Excellent points about how boys vs girls and peer pressure!

      I think it’s always going to be a struggle- social media is just the newest set of struggles. My parents always used to say “If you don’t want ppl to know, don’t write it down on paper”- well social media is that to the extreme! One tweet or Fb post can be spread like crazy!

      I’m still leaning toward it being Amelia- but we’ll see. πŸ™‚

      I LOVE the title (almost as much as the cover!)

      You can read ahead (if you want) Just don’t tell us any spoilers πŸ™‚ There are a few of us who still have not gotten the book ( they are on waiting list for library!)

      Off Topic: A HUNDRED SUMMERS = FANTASTIC. Seriously. I’m so glad you are enjoying the book club- thank you for joining in!

  8. I read the first reading assignment and it is taking all my will power not to finish the book immediately. I’m usually a one-book-at-a-time girl, but I’m trying really hard to stick to the schedule in spite of all the peer pressure on Twitter. Thankfully, I have some other good books to read.

    1. I don’t really watch TV so I’m not familiar with the shows. I have seen Mean Girls and I’ve been to high school and interact regularly with teenage girls. I think the Reconstructing Amelia definitely has a that “mean girl” feel but possibly because it’s realistic.

    2. The cover is intriguing and I would have picked it up at the book store. The more I am reading about Amelia and Kate, the cover fits with that overwhelming feeling of loss, confusion and mourning. I think it fits the feel of the book so far.

    3. So far, Kate is just starting to look into Amelia’s life but I can see that the title will be a perfect fit with the direction the novel appears to be taking.

    4. My oldest son is turning 12 in a few weeks. He just finished 7th grade at the local middle school. Right now he has very little access to social media and doesn’t have his own phone. He and his friends text their inane and ridiculous texts from my phone. We’re pretty vigilant and will probably become more so as he gets older and has more access to social media. I think it’s important for their safety–physically and emotionally.

    Kids that age often have trouble being kind to each other. Let’s be honest, we were all that age once and remember the cliques and the cruelty. My daughter is 10 and she regularly deals with the “mean girl” problem. But I think the social media adds another layer. Kids can more quickly spread the gossip. Be anonymous. And often they send things out in the web that they might never say to someone’s face, often without thinking properly about the consequences.

    5. The schools are all generally the same because they all have kids in them.

    I’m really enjoying Reconstructing Amelia so far and I’m anxious to finish. It’s inspiring some motherly anxiety.

    • Ya’ll can read ahead πŸ™‚ Just don’t alert us to things happening ahead of what we are reading πŸ™‚ I want to read it all- and yet, I can’t- because I have too much to read!

      1. I watch TV and movies prob more than I should πŸ™‚

      2. The cover- it def has a lot of good things going for it. And I def would have picked it up myself as well!
      I can’t wait to see after the book is over- if we still love the cover!

      3. Agreed! Do you think, Kate, as a single mom has it harder “Reconstructing Amelia” or even if she had a husband- could she still be having to “Reconstruct Amelia?”

      4.YES! YES! YES! Kids can be cruel- we all have those kind of experiences- and let’s face it- some/most schools are not equipped to deal with that (at least it has been my experience). I don’t know if there are “easy” answers about kids and social media (I don’t think it is) but parents have to be involved.

      5. Yep- do you think, though, that schools that have more money, more privilege deal with this mean girl stuff more or less than just an average school?

      Thanks for participating πŸ™‚

      • Carrie Rice says:

        IMO, money doesn’t have too much to do with it except these prep school kids pressure with good scotch and my students get pressured with cheap beer.

      • I live in a very religious/middle to low income area but we still face all the same issues–mean kids, drugs, alcohol, etc. Kids are all the same.

      • Good point. I think we all “know” that- and yet, because we’re living in different areas, different lives- it’s sometimes hard to say that at the core we’re having similar experiences.

  9. I’m thinking Gossip Girls, though I’ve never seen it, is probably closest to the scenes in this book. I do have to say that I was lucky enough to grow up without social media being everywhere, and I’m incredibly thankful for that.
    I feel as if Kate has been too hard on herself. There must be more to that story line.
    Is anyone else distrusting of that PTA mom who came over to talk about the “benefit” for Amelia? Maybe that was just me. Random ramblings, by Melody. πŸ™‚

    • Gossip Girl has been a show I’ve watched off and on for years- it’s like my guilty pleasure!

      I’m so glad we didn’t have SM growing up- it just would have added another layer to teenage angst!

      Yes, I feel that way in a way- but I’m thinking Kate’s got more than meets the eye.

      The PTA woman?! OMG- I wanted Kate to slap her.

    • k2reader says:

      I was very suspicious of the PTA Mom – just got a weird vibe while reading that scene. It’s almost as if she might know something and wants to see if Kate knows??? I don’t know – something was definitely off with that.

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