To Feel Stuff

Andrea Seigel, Author . Harcourt $14 (269p) ISBN 978-0-15-603150-9

Seigel's sophomore effort is a scattershot case study in illness, love and the unexplained. Elodie Harrington is an undergraduate at Brown University who lives in the college infirmary, suffering from a series of unrelated illnesses "piggybacked one upon another," so that she never fully recovers. Her story is told from three points of view—Dr. Mark Kirschling's account of her confounding symptoms in the Journal of Parapsychology and letters between Elodie and Chester Hunter III, a fellow undergrad she meets in the infirmary. Though the structure is a bit contrived (the letters and journal article are filled with dialogue), each section picks up with little repetition. As Chester mends and Elodie get sicker, it becomes clear that their blossoming love is threatened by the specter of health. It doesn't all hold up to close scrutiny, but Seigel has crafted believable characters to anchor the fantastical circumstances, and it's a testament to her ability to captivate that the book ends at what feels like just the beginning. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
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