The Raising by Laura Kasischke

The Raising by Laura Kasischke
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins
Review copy provided by the publicist

The accident was a horrific one, and it left beautiful, popular, smart sorority girl Nicole dead. Craig, her boyfriend and the one driving the car that killed her, is back at school a year later, trying to put his life back together. Perry, his roommate and Nicole’s long-time friend, is working through his own grief by taking a class about death and dying. Mira, Perry’s professor of said course, is working hard to juggle her full-time career, manage her stay-at-home husband’s happiness, and care for her two-year-old twins. And Shelly, a music professor at the same college, who was the first person at the scene of the accident, has given up on telling the media outlets and police the truth of what really happened that night. She spends her time trying to convince herself that what she saw that night – Nicole, very much alive after the accident – was a figment of her imagination, instead of a mystery that needs to be solved.

The Raising is one of the most interesting and surprising novels I’ve read in a while. When I began reading it, I thought the book would mainly be about how these characters dealt with their grief in the wake of Nicole’s death, and truth be told I didn’t understand why it was such a long book. I wasn’t sure how Shelly and Mira would fit in with the rest of the characters, or even if their stories really had anything to do with the meat of the novel. Boy, was I wrong!

While I absolutely was intrigued by and ended up loving the plot of this novel, the characters really took me by surprise (in a good way). Craig, Perry, Mira, and Shelly were each extremely vivid characters, expertly created by Kasischke and crafted into real people. And the way that their stories all came together in the end so the reader could finally understand how important each one was to the overall story – I thought that was genius. The character of Nicole, while she isn’t technically alive in the book, came alive through the other characters’ memories of her. By the end of the novel, I felt that I knew Nicole just as well as everyone else.

I loved that there was a mystery aspect to this novel, especially because I wasn’t expecting that at all. It has that creepy kind of undertone throughout the entire book, which was just delicious. I couldn’t wait to find out what characters’ motivations really were for their actions, what secret they were trying to cover up, and what really happened to Nicole. While the characters were fantastic, it was the mysterious plot that caused me to have extreme difficulty putting the book down!

I definitely feel that I can’t properly do The Raising justice in this review because the book really is that good. It’s the kind of book where the action builds slowly, allowing the reader to really get to know the characters before the “real” plot starts to happen. But if you are a patient reader, you will be rewarded in a big way by this novel. I loved, loved it!