Ivy League coed with mysterious health problems discovers that there might be paranormal explanation for her ailments.
Repeatedly and inexplicably stricken with a variety of diseases, including tuberculosis, mumps and chicken pox, 19-year-old Elodie Harrington has grown used to living apart from her peers. A full-time resident of the Brown University infirmary, her insular world of nurses and emergency-room visits is suddenly altered by the arrival of Chess Hunter, a campus golden boy whose knees have been shattered by a seemingly random act of violence. Stuck indoors together, the two fall in love, temporarily oblivious to the fact that Chess, unlike Elodie, is likely to recover soon. Around this time, Elodie’s case attracts the attention of Dr. Mark Kirschling, an ambitious physician and professor who believes there is at least some possibility that her condition is psychosomatic. Elodie agrees to let him study her with the understanding that his work will keep her from being expelled. Understandably fascinated by her case, but also a bit smitten by Elodie’s extreme fragility, Kirschling learns that Elodie has also begun seeing an “apparition” around the infirmary. Does this mean the girl is out of her mind, or could she actually be experiencing a kind of “psychic puberty,” or physical awakening to her extraordinary abilities? And if so, is it even possible for such an unconventional creature to exist in the privileged “real world” of someone like Chess? Both a bittersweet love story and an existential mystery, this confident second novel from the author of Like the Red Panda (2004) has an appealingly edgy heroine in the gifted/cursed Elodie. Unfortunately, her male characters, especially the stilted and pretentious Chess, aren’t quite as convincing.
Spooky and inventive coming-of-age/ghost-story hybrid.