The Raising is the first Laura Kasischke book I’ve read, and I’m giving it four stars because, while I was disappointed with the way the plot resolved (or rather didn’t resolve), I think she is a writer of great talent. She can expertly set a scene, grab a reader’s attention, evoke strong emotions, in essence, use language in a compellingly beautiful way to build a story.

I usually have no taste for books that alternate two or more characters’ points of view, chapter by chapter. This book does that. And I think it speaks to Kasischke’s skill that her use of this technique didn’t annoy me. The novel also moves back and forth in time, and that worked fine for me, too.

I love the Midwestern college campus world Kasischke created in this book. I was completely drawn into it and wanted to find out what really happened to Nicole, a freshman who may or may not have been pure and virginal and who may or may not have died in an auto accident. I love that the main characters were a mix of generations, some students, some professors. I liked getting a look into all of their lives and motivations and was horrified at what happened to most of them.

In the end, though, perhaps because I came to care so much for the main characters—Craig, Nicole’s boyfriend; Perry, her childhood friend who was also Craig’s roommate; Mira, a professor who studied diverse cultures’ beliefs and rituals involving death; and Shelly, and academic who had enjoyed a career running the chamber music society on campus—I was very disappointed with the way all of the various elements resolved.

I think Kasischke is a writer to watch. I haven’t read her first novel, In a Perfect World, but I intend to, along with anything else she’s written and will write. I think there is greatness in her.

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