Avoid the Bradstreet Gate

I just got back from a beachy spring break, in which I was able to read 5 books in my 6 days gone. So it was pretty much perfect!

I mostly read on my kindle now, but brought along a paperback copy of Bradstreet Gate (which I received from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review). I am a sucker for a good academic mystery, and the marketing for the book compared it to Donna Tartt's Secret History (one of the best books ever) and Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings. While those are pretty high bars to hit, I was hoping it would at least be as good as the similarly themed Black Chalk, which I moderately enjoyed.

No such luck.

The author (Robin Kirman) is a new writer, and this is her debut. A few parts of it were exceedingly well written, full paragraphs that described emotions or feeling so well that they seemed to be part of a separate book altogether. But in general, this was a book about people we did not care about (the leads — Charlie, Georgia, and Alice, plus the housemaster Rufus Storrow) are not only thoroughly unlikeable, but we can't even imagine how they got into Harvard or why they even wanted to be there.

I have great nostalgia for going to college in that area, and one gets the sense that Harvard itself should have been another character in the story. But even that was stifled, with a few place names dropped for interest, and some references to the university's houses that made them seem like charming anachronisms.

Almost half the book is dedicated to the characters' lives after graduation, and here it really descends into a land of "who cares." And without giving away too many spoilers, let's just say that it's not an ending that makes it worth reading through.

I think there's some promise here, and I would likely read another of Kirman's more mature books in a few years. But this one was a waste of a beach read.
Bradstreet Gate


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