Saturday, July 4, 2020

Ghosts of Harvard (Francesca Serritella)

Francesca Serritella's Ghosts of Harvard has a premise that grabs you from the start -- a college freshman's quest to understand her brother's suicide. The problem is that there were so many other things stuffed into the book that it was hard to keep my interest.

Cady Archer enrolls in Harvard, the place where her brother, Eric, ended his life. She is desperate to find what she might have missed to save him. Along with normal college things that everyone goes through (like a grueling class schedule and living with roommates), Cady spends her time dissecting her brother's final year. She also begins to hear voices, which turn out to be ghosts from long ago. Is Cady developing the same mental illness that contributed to her brother's tragic end?

Serritella is certainly a talented writer, and Ghosts of Harvard clearly shows that she did her research. But it was at least 150 pages too long and could have benefitted from more editing. To me, it wasn't really clear how the ghosts fit in with the main theme of the story. Toward the end, the book began to try to fit in other themes like espionage and just became tiring to finish. I'm probably in the minority with this one though -- it seemed like many people liked it.