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Ghosts of Harvard: A Novel

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  4,910 ratings  ·  1,048 reviews
A Harvard freshman becomes obsessed with her schizophrenic brother’s suicide. Then she starts hearing voices.
“Every time I thought I knew where Ghosts of Harvard was heading, I turned out to be wrong. Part mystery, part ghost story, part psychological thriller, this novel is all entertainment.”—Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by Random House
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Carrie Williams Honestly, it's neither. As far as a ghost story, there are neither apparitions nor haunted places. And it is definitely NOT a serious treatment of men…moreHonestly, it's neither. As far as a ghost story, there are neither apparitions nor haunted places. And it is definitely NOT a serious treatment of mental illness. Rather it is one's family experience with mental illness but there is nothing here that you would want to use to help you diagnose a mental health issue.(less)
Donna Although the main character is a college freshman, as a high school librarian I would absolutely not classify this as a young adult book. It’s a bit m…moreAlthough the main character is a college freshman, as a high school librarian I would absolutely not classify this as a young adult book. It’s a bit more complex than typical YA, although a mature junior or senior would enjoy this title if they like mysteries, ghost stories, and/or are interested in books about mental illness. (less)
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Nilufer Ozmekik
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the books bring out so many feeling you’ve bottled up inside. I felt fear, grief, sadness and I also get confused, wanted to cry but some parts I really sat on the edge of my couch. The most beautiful thing about the book is realistic, honest but also genuine story-telling.

This is psychological overwhelming, powerful, intense, thought-provoking, riveting reading about a girl’s search for the answers behind the suicide of her brother. The family’s grieving process and enduring the afterma
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
for a debut, this is pretty dang commendable. there was a point where i wondered if the author had bit off more than she could chew, perhaps she was being a little too ambitious, but i was pleasantly surprised that everything came together nicely.

this story tackles a lot of different topics - first year of college experiences, gaining independence, mental health, navigating family relationships, solving mysteries, death and grief, learning history, diving into the paranormal, and conspiracy. lik
Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella is a 2020 Random House publication.

After her schizophrenic brother, Eric, commits suicide while attending Harvard University, Cady Archer is determined to learn everything she can about his movements leading up to his death. To that end, she too enrolls at Harvard, much to her mother’s dismay.

However, once she arrives on campus and begins investigating Eric’s activities, she too begins to hear voices- voices from the past that tell a shameful story of
Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill
This is a book that revolves around the suicide of a family member and how the family struggles to cope and understand. The writing is impeccable! The writer spent a great deal of time researching and fine tuning it down to every detail. It was very impressive.

After Eric takes his own life one night in April on the campus of Harvard. His sister Cady decided to follow in his footsteps and attend Harvard. She longs to find answers to the questions she has about her brother's last days.

The story t
Elyse  Walters
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook... narrated by Karissa Vacker

This debut novel was compulsively readable....(not without flaws), but the interwoven mystery, history, suicide, schizophrenia, academia, family background, secrets, grief, college life, and the supernatural, ( guiding voices), was well written and unravels at a pace that kept me hooked until the end.

Outstanding campus descriptions of Harvard!!!!

A very enjoyable complex chiller-thriller!!!

If there was ever a book that should be made into a movie...this is
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

“It’s supposed to be a time when you’re about to embark on your adult life, but for many young people, that springboard looks more like a precipice.”

Ghosts of Harvard is a patchwork of a novel. While the summary seems to promise more of thriller/academia type of book (I personally would not recommend this to those who enjoy campus novels or dark academia), what we do get is a mishmash of genres and storylines: to start with we have a moving family drama that examines the realities
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.

3.5 stars

A long-time fan of Lisa Scottoline, I was very excited to see her daughter, Francesca Serritella, had also written a novel...and the synopsis sounded amazing. I was thrilled when the publisher sent me a copy.

Ghosts of Harvard follows the story of Cady
Theresa Alan
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this novel could be described as a literary paranormal mystery. Part of the mystery is whether it’s paranormal or if Cadence (Cady) has schizophrenia like her older brother, who committed suicide at Harvard, the school she is now attending as a freshman.

Up until his diagnosis, Eric was Cady’s best friend. But the last two years of his life were tough, even when he was on his meds, which he kept not taking. Cady blames herself for his death. The “if onlys” keep cycling through her mind.
May 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Perhaps if the author had any idea what she wanted this book to be she wouldn’t have needed a bloated, melodramatic 500 pages to tell her story. The basic plot involves Cady, a Harvard freshman who has followed her brother Eric to college a few months after he committed suicide there. Eric was a paranoid schizophrenic and Cady uses his incoherent notebook to try to trace the last months of his life to find out why he died. Unfortunately, the basic plot is stretched in too many directions - famil ...more
I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Random House) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ghosts of Harvard completely blew me away. At its core, it houses such a poignant window into mental illness and the victims it leaves behind when those struggling with it take their own lives. The portrayal of grief is brutal and beautiful and real. And yet this story is so much more than that. As she explores the Harvard campus on which her brother took his own life, Cady is faced wi
To enjoy “Ghosts of Harvard” by Francesca Serritella, one must have an interest in spirits aka ghosts. I was a huge fan of the TV series “Ghost Whisperer” and this is in the same vein. Basically, it’s not realistic fiction; beyond the ghost factor, we have a plucky Harvard Freshman who sleuths her way, by ignoring classes and classwork. Perhaps the setting should have been a third-rate university. However, there is a reason that author Serritella chose Harvard to tell her tale, and she provides ...more
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this novel down and read for 2 days straight only taking “breaks” to sleep and eat. Absolutely outstanding and a novel that will stay with me FOREVER!!!

Francesca Serritella, is a local celebrity to me. She and her Mother, Lisa Scottoline, have delighted readers with their “chick wit” books and columns. Francesca is real, thoughtful, open and raw. I have gotten the chance to meet her and have been awaiting the arrival of this book for years. I must say IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT.

May 23, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First, before anything else, I want to address this important point: This is not a thriller. Not really. This is not a scary ghost story. Not at all. This story is partially a mystery and largely a young woman coming to terms with the grief of losing her brother to suicide. Sadly, this seems to have been promoted all wrong, which may be harmful to the author’s work when certain expectations aren’t met.

I thought the first several chapters captured the emotional components of a grieving family in
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
This book had promise, but it went south fairly quickly. Cady goes to Harvard to chase the ghost of her brother who had committed suicide there the year prior. Is she spiraling into schizophrenia as her brother did as she uncovers deep secrets? The book was far too slow and flat. Such a shame.....
Connie G
Cady Archer is emotionally haunted by the suicide of her schizophrenic brother, Eric. She and her parents each carry a sense of guilt that they did not do enough to save him during his last year of life as a Harvard student. When Cady enters Harvard in her freshman year, she carries Eric's notebook of coded messages which he wrote while he was struggling with his mental illness.

Cady begins to hear voices of ghosts from Harvard's history. Is she also developing the same mental illness, or are the
Amanda Hupe
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways, 2020-reads
Thank you to Goodreads, the author, and Random House for the opportunity to read this book!

Warning: Suicide Warning and other possible mental health triggers

I am still reeling from reading Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella. Cady Archer is accepted to Harvard. This should be a time of joy and celebrating accomplishments. However, her acceptance is clouded by the fact that she is still grieving over the death of her older brother. Her brother was also a student at Harvard, the top of the p
Feb 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book is a mess. The story itself starts off enjoyable and full of intrigue and mystery with a little bit of ghost story mixed in. But everything goes downhill quickly. Lots of muddled references to various things that are never followed up on or never truly explored.

The story could have survived if it decided to be a mystery, ghost story, or family drama and stuck with the choice. The flirting back and forth with such an unsatisfying ending was just painful.

My copy was provided by NetGall
Pam Jenoff
Jan 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This remarkable fiction debut by Francesca Serritella (who is Lisa Scottoline's daughter and has also written some wonderful non-fiction with her mom) is the story of a young woman who goes Harvard not just for college but to find out why her brilliant older brother took his own life there years earlier. This is both a mysterious thriller and a touching exploration of family and self. Enjoy! ...more
Farshana ❤️rainnbooks❤️
Health issues have been numerous the last two weeks and my reading schedule has gone for a toss.

Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella was a wrong choice to read during an already painful week. So fair warning, dear readers, the review would surely reflect my lousy mood.

Yes, this has ghosts which is exactly the reason why it went into my TBR but Ghosts of Harvard is primarily a book about being haunted by grief. There is, in fact, a variety of genres vying for attention in this tale. It is
May 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I totally get what Serritella was going for with this novel - a mix of a paranormal ghost story, a psychological, spy thriller, and a coming-of-age college tale. However, I don't think she quite mastered any of them. "Ghosts of Harvard" is from the point of view of Cady, a freshman at Harvard who decides to attend the school despite her schizophrenic older brother committing suicide there the previous year. She starts to hear voices and begins to wonder if she's going to end up just like her bro ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
It's a mystery with an academic setting.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on May fifth.

Hmm…where to begin with this book? I rarely give trigger warnings, instead describing books as harsh if they discuss heavier subjects, but in this case I think I need to add a trigger warning. Suicide is an ongoing theme throughout this book. It’s mentioned in the blurb, so it’s not hidden or anything, but if that’s something you don’t want to read about, you might want t
This book is like a buffet meal, it has a little bit of everything - mystery with paranormal elements, mental illness and family drama! ⁣

I love stories with ghosts so this book immediately intrigued me. It ended up being about much more than I expected. It was part murder mystery with a sprinkling of the paranormal but it’s really about grief, family and mental illness. It was honest, real and thought-provoking. ⁣

This book was a slow burn but the audio had me entranced. I never found it boring
Karen R
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cady Archer is obsessed with the death of her brilliant yet schizophrenic brother who ended his life while at Harvard and she is desperately looking for closure. Cady has her brother’s smarts and despite her mother’s wishes, enrolls at Harvard to try to find answers to what led to his suicide. She starts hearing voices from the past and fears she is following in her brother’s footsteps, displaying symptoms of schizophrenia. The chilling story is complex, entertaining and I raced through it. I es ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An accomplished debut, richly imagined and beautifully wrought with all my favorite questions about hauntings, inner and outer.
4 stars--I really liked it. Trigger warnings for suicide and mental health.

This starts as a ghost story and ends as a spy novel. For real!

OK, that's not REALLY true (though the book has elements of both those genres). It's actually an introspective, quiet novel about mental health and family relations. I really liked the coolness of the narrative voice (such a relief after reading too many first-person novels. Yes, I am biased).

The only thing I didn't really like was Cady herself--she's kind of
SLOW burn warning!! Ghosts of Harvard by Francesca Serritella is an incredibly thought-provoking look at mental illness, but the pacing is very slow which I know will be a huge turn off for some people. Luckily for me, I love audiobooks and listening to it made it feel not quite so slow. Karissa Vacker was a good narrator, and I had no issues with how she read the book. The audio made me feel more connected to the story and characters, although Serritella's writing did that as well. It was so vi ...more
Laura ☾
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 stars

Somehow, I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. The writing was easy to follow and definitely engaging, and the concept was also an interesting one, but somehow it fell just a little short of that mark that would make me rave about it.

Serritella deals with grief and mental illness quite well, but again somehow it just didn't hit that spot of being incredible. I think the plot had a few too many elements going on that weren't fully explored, and then others that were explor
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of GHOSTS OF HARVARD by Francesca Serritella in exchange for my honest review.***


Only months after Cadence’s schizophrenic brother Eric committed suicide at Harvard, she begins her freshman year at the prestigious university. Soon she begins hearing voices. Wondering if she inherited Eric’s mental illness with auditory hallucinations as a symptom, Cady also considers she’s hearing the purported GHOSTS OF HARVARD others have he
Ghosts of Harvard follows the story of Cady trying to piece together what happened in leading to her brothers suicide at Harvard University. The writing was interesting enough but a bit of a slow burn. I do think the book could have been 100 pages less however, I did want to find out what happened so I kept pushing on. I expected more of a thrilling ghost story so I'm a little disappointed but that is just a personal preference and in no way makes this a bad book. I think some of the plot lines ...more
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Francesca Serritella is a bestselling author and columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She graduated cum laude from Harvard University, where she won the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize, the Le Baron Russell Briggs Fiction Prize, and the Charles Edmund Horman Prize for her creative writing. She lives in New York with one dog and one cat, so far.

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