Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{March 6, 2011}   The Raising, by Laura Kasischke

HarperCollins has been extremely gracious to allow me to review this book, through Netgalley, prior to its release date of March 15th, 2011.  The synopsis from HarperCollins is as follows:  “The accident was tragic, yes.  Bloody and horrific and claiming the life of a beautiful young sorority girl.  Nicole was a straight A student from a small town.  Sweet-tempered, all-American, a former Girl Scout, and a virgin.  But it was an accident.  And that was last year.  It’s fall again, a new semester, a fresh start.

Craig, who has not been charged with murder, is focusing on his classes, and also on avoiding Nicole’s sorority sisters, who seem to blame him for her death even though the police did not. 

Perry, Craig’s roommate, is working through his own grief (he grew up with Nicole, after all, and had known her since kindergarten) by auditing Professor Polson’s sociology class: Death, Dying, and the Undead. 

Mira has been so busy with her babies—two of them, twins, the most perfect boys you could imagine, but still a nearly impossible amount of work even with Clark’s help—that she can barely keep herself together to teach (Death, Dying, and the Undead), let alone write the book she’ll need to publish for tenure. 

And Shelley, who was the first person at the scene of the accident, has given up calling the newspapers to tell them that, despite the “lake of blood” in which they keep reporting the victim was found, the girl Shelly saw that night was not bloody, and not dead.”


If you’re looking for a good mystery, one that will chill you to the bone and keep you guessing through multiple twists and turns, then you need to read this novel!  This story interweaves the lives of four people on a college campus, all in relation to Nicole, a young girl killed in a horrible car crash.  Each chapter focuses on a different character within the novel—sometimes relaying events in the present, and sometimes relaying events from the past.  This brilliant literary technique will keep you enraptured and glued to the pages.  As events unfold, new information comes to light and, page by page, the story slowly begins to unravel. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the characterization, especially because the characters were as real as you and me.  Kasischke does a wonderful job creating and developing them, and the twists and turns within the novel keep the reader wondering who these people really are.  No one is what they seem, and this revelation is one of the reasons that the mystery within the novel is so captivating.  New information continues to arise, causing the reader to reassess his/her thoughts and beliefs throughout the novel.  While this is an adult novel, with mature themes, language, and sexuality, these aspects actually propel the story forward as we learn about the events leading up to, and after, the fatal car accident. 

I will admit that I was not pleased with the ending, though it does fit the style of writing.  There is no definite conclusion, and the reader is left to piece everything together.  While certain scenarios are strongly alluded to, you will have to decide for yourself.  In all actuality, I believe the ending makes the novel that much more unnerving; the events within the novel could really happen.  Perhaps they already have…  The Raising is a haunting tale of deception and conspiracy; you will never think of sororities the same way again.  Four stars.   

et cetera