Ghosts of Harvard

Rating: 4 out of 5.
ghosts of harvard book cover

Francesca Serritella 2020

Is this a psychological thriller? A paranormal mystery? A journey in quantum physics? Or is it the story of a young woman following her brother’s path deeper and deeper into the dark landscape of paranoid schizophrenia? I’m not answering that question here; even defining it as more than a mystery would be a spoiler, so I’m not tagging it as anything more concrete. I’ll probably write some book discussion questions later, but I will also mark them as spoilers. Update! Discussion questions are now available.

Against her parents’ wishes, Cadence Archer is a freshman at Harvard, the school her schizophrenic brother attended until his death the previous year. This is the story of Cadence’s grief, the new dynamics of her family, and her exploration of the circumstances surrounding his death. To say much more about the plot would also cross into spoiler territory, but Cadence’s habit of missing exams and getting to class late reminded me uncomfortably of my recurring nightmare. You know the one. You have a final exam for a course that you either skipped for most of the semester, or completely forgot you were taking. . . .

(I listened to the unabridged audio; narrator Karissa Vacker did an admirable job. Her depiction of conventionally male voices is so authentic that I found myself rewinding to see if there was a male co-narrator. Nope, it’s all Karissa.)

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