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Review: The Raising, Laura Kasischke

the raisingDriving along a road near the college where she is a faculty member, Shelly spots an accident happening right before her eyes. She pulls over and races down, calling 911 as she goes along. When she sees that the couple in the car are both alive, and the ambulance driver arrives, she heads to the hospital herself for stitches and assumes everything will be fine. Then she sees in the newspaper that the girl died – was burned beyond recognition and found in a lake of blood – and that both she and the boyfriend fled the scene before the ambulance even arrived. Shelly is upset and angry, but no one will listen to her account of the truth. We then begin to learn bits and pieces about the relationship between the two college students, Craig and Nicole, what happened afterward and what led to the fateful accident. The Raising is a haunting tale of ghosts, university life, and love.

As soon as I started reading this book, I could not put it down. I sat there with my Kindle on a Saturday morning into afternoon, completely putting off everything I had planned for the day, just so I could continue reading this book. Yes, it is that addictive. It’s well-written, so each scene leads into the next, and as the scandals and the lies start to build up, I just had to know what happened. I predicted a few of the twists along the way, but the emotional investment and slow unveiling of the story made it an absolutely fantastic read.

Much of the suspense in the book comes from the fact that we really don’t know what happened that night. Craig has suffered amnesia and Shelly only knows what she saw – she has no idea how the girl’s body got burned beyond recognition, why the couple swerved when nothing was on the road, or why lies pervade stories in the newspapers and on the internet. The mystery is slowly unveiled as we discover what kind of people Craig, Nicole, and their friends are. We go back in their history, from their first year in college to the second, exploring relationships and how they developed. Naturally, everyone assumes rich boyfriend Craig is the killer, but without actual evidence, he’s returned to college and has to deal with the hole in his memories.

Added in to the mix, just to give the story another dimension, is the discussion of death. One of the characters, Perry, insists on taking a freshman seminar explicitly about death. This leads to a lot of fascinating stories about death throughout the ages and the introduction of the professor, Mira, who has her own thoughts on the subject. I almost wished more was done with this.

The only thing that prevents this from being an absolute perfect book for me were the questions I had shortly after finishing. One part of the conclusion doesn’t make sense – and still doesn’t much – and I think it’s this that has held back my enthusiastic, five star reaction. If you’ve read the book, let me know so we can chat about it.

Nevertheless, The Raising is really an amazing book. It’s so compelling you won’t want to put it down, but it’s not without food for thought either. Highly recommended.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from Netgalley for review.

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