cover image Ghosts of Harvard

Ghosts of Harvard

Francesca Serritella. Random House, $27 (480p) ISBN 978-0-525-51036-9

Serritella debuts with a brisk, entertaining coming-of-age story about a young woman trying simultaneously to find out who she is and uncover the truth about her brother’s death. Cady Archer begins her studies at Harvard University less than a year after the death of her older brother, Eric, a Harvard student and the golden child of the family whose schizophrenia has long been a source of trouble in Cady’s life. She and her parents have been devastated by his suicide, and now Cady wants to know what happened and what her brother’s life was like at Harvard. Using one of Eric’s cryptic notebooks like a treasure map, Cady wanders the campus and talks with Nikos, her brother’s friend, and Mikaela Prokop, his faculty advisor, who explain how he stopped taking medication as he became increasingly dedicated to his physics research on entanglement theory. Her desire for resolution also sparks an interest in geocaching (scavenger hunts based on GPS locating) and she begins to hear voices: first, one that helps her out in a history class; and then one that helps her escape a rapist. Serritella has a wonderful touch for her secondary characters—there’s a Professor Hines who is a note-perfect caricature of a tenured Harvard professor—and Cady herself has a great voice. Readers of campus mysteries will love this surprising and intricate bildungsroman. (May)