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Cover Image: Ghosts of Harvard

Ghosts of Harvard

Pub Date:

Review by

Erin K, Reviewer

My Recommendation

I totally get what Serritella was going for with this novel - a mix of a paranormal ghost story, a psychological, spy thriller, and a coming-of-age college tale. However, I don't think she quite mastered any of them. "Ghosts of Harvard" is from the point of view of Cady, a freshman at Harvard who decides to attend the school despite her schizophrenic older brother committing suicide there the previous year. She starts to hear voices and begins to wonder if she's going to end up just like her brother.

Instead of a straightforward exploration of what happens when she hears these voices, the story ends up feeling really muddled and waaaay too long. It was difficult to sense where the story was going or which of the many side characters would actually turn out to be important. I think the setting of Harvard was really interesting and Serritella obviously can describe the college and its surrounding town in great detail. But it got to a point where there was almost too much detail (which I didn't know could be a thing). For example, it seemed superfluous to list the exact cafes, dining halls, dorms, etc. on campus when it didn't feel all that relevant to the story. There were also some sentences that I just couldn't get behind: "The low moon was a gold button on a navy sport coat sky." Huh? Sentences like this one made me feel like Serritella was trying to be too 'writerly' instead of writing the way people actually speak. To tell the truth, I would have loved this book if it had just been a simple ghost story because the historic ghosts were truly the most interesting characters.

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