Bradstreet Gate

Bradstreet Gate

A Novel

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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The brutal murder of a Harvard senior and rumors about a charismatic instructor haunt the lives of three graduates over the course of a decade-long search for answers.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780804139311
Branch Call Number: FIC KIRMAN
Characteristics: 305 pages ; 25 cm


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May 11, 2016

I usually avoid novels about college life by young authors. People should write about what they know, but if college is all a writer has experienced of life, the literary debut is generally a disappointment.

Ms. Kirman, however, is a promising new talent and the first half of her novel offers an engaging portrait of a group of Harvard undergrads in the late nineties. The second half follows them off-campus, as they grapple with careers, their fractured relationships and their roles in the unsolved murder of a classmate. Unfortunately, I don't feel the author succeeded in pulling all these strands together. Maybe she's planning a sequel. But will readers give her a second chance?

Jun 18, 2015

I received an ARC of Bradstreet Gate for review (hey, look at that! I'm reading something recently published, for once!).

Bradstreet Gate is the story of three people, transitioning into adulthood and dealing with disappointed expectations and the resonance of a tragedy that affects their life in unforeseen ways. There's a murder, but the focus of the tale is definitely more on the "coming into adulthood" fiction side than on the mystery.

Given that, I found it well-written and engaging, with fully realized characters who represented very realistic foibles. Charlie was my favorite, mostly because even though he's perpetually stuck, he's a generous and hopeful guy (whose morality slips now and then). Alice and Georgia I both loved and hated (for their blithe destruction of others and self, through impulsive selfishness and manipulation). But they all felt very real.

The author did an excellent job of playing the murder mystery close to her chest. There was much more devoted to the aftereffects, even a decade later, or the murder than any investigation into who committed it.

And that brings me to my own issue with the book: the ending.
Specifically, the complete and utter lack of resolution regarding the murder.
It was very realistic, in that there was no closure for anyone. But I felt like it would have really hit the sweet spot to confirm the identity of the killer, even just a little bit. Or the motive. Or something.

I was left wanting more in that vein, even though I was satisfied with the ending of the main characters (which was also very open-ended, but on a healing note).

If you read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl and threw the book across the room after the last page, this book may frustrate you. Otherwise, I recommend it for fans of fiction that explore the reality of grief, metaphorically groping your way into adulthood, and the lives of damaged but relatable people. Also those who like contemporary, realistic portrayals of people, character-driven stories and being kept guessing about the true nature of secondary characters.


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