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Review & Giveaway: The Raising

The Raising

The Raising
By Laura Kasischke
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780062004789, March 2011, 496pp.)

The Short of It:

I found myself eagerly picking it up although I felt absolutely no affection for any of the characters.

The Rest of It:

I can’t say too much about the plot or I’ll give something away but this was an odd, little book. It was odd in the way it made me feel. The Raising is about the death of a sorority girl and how she continues to live on in the hearts of those who knew her. Except there are details of her death that are beginning to come out and all is not what it’s cracked up to be.

Essentially, the story is simple but it’s about so much more than what you see on the surface. It’s about obsession and the power of memory. How much are we willing to admit when perfection is at stake? It’s also very much a book about death and dying, but not in the traditional sense. The sense of mourning you feel while reading this novel is not what a grieving parent would feel. It’s different. Part of that is due to the story itself, but some of it has to do with the tone of the novel. If I had to describe it artfully I’d say that it was like a B&W snapshot with torn edges. Stark. Blemished.

I think if I were to focus on plot alone, I’d be rolling my eyes. It was a bit “out there” in places and not terribly realistic in others but I tend to focus on characters and although these characters would never be  my friends, I found them wildly amusing. No, I can’t say that I ever felt sorry for any of them or that I could even relate to their particular circumstance, but I could easily relate to the sorority life that Kasischke created. This coming from a “sister” who was blackballed from hers. Seriously, Kasischke nailed that aspect of it.

I also liked the fact that these characters were not who they appeared to be. The human condition is often not what we expect it to be once you carve away gender, race and class. I was often frustrated with these characters but fascinated with them, too. I think this is why the story worked for me. I’ve been reading some other reviews and many have not liked the book. I suspect that those folks had issues with the plot. I can certainly see where they are coming from, but because I enjoy reading about characters who are less than desirable I was willing to let go of reality for a short while.

If any of you’ve read Kasischke’s In a Perfect World, and recall it taking quite awhile to get a feel for the main characters, you will experience the same thing here. The character development is not handled as delicately as In a Perfect World, but The Raising is its grittier sister. The stories were completely different in each but there are some similarities as far as the writing goes.

Overall, I actually liked this one a lot more than I thought I would.

If you’d like a chance to win a copy, check out the details below.

Source: Review and giveaway copy provided by the publisher.

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This giveaway is for one copy of The Raising and is open to the US and Canada. A winner will be chosen randomly by me. The book will come directly from me. Only one entry per person.  Giveaway closes on April 29, 2011 (pacific). I will contact the winner for his/her mailing address.

To enter the giveaway, please click here. (This giveaway is now closed!)