Often the first 100 days of a President’s term is used as a benchmark to measure or predict his effectiveness.
This is true with Franklin D. Roosevelt (a crippling financial panic in 1933), Ronald Regan (release of United States diplomats in 1981) and Barack Obama (another financial crisis in 2009).
In using this yardstick, the first 100 pages of a book may indicate its impression on the reader.
I have read several of Lisa Scottoline’s mystery books because they grab me from beginning to end, whether because of the plot I try to figure out (not very successfully), the development of its characters or the humor in many of them.
In early May, the "Philadelphia Inquirer" ran quite a lengthy article about Lisa’s daughter, Francesca Serritella, who graduated from Harvard, cum laude and whose first novel, “Ghosts of Harvard” was going to hit the bookshelves shortly.
I’m sure Francesca got much print in the paper because she and Lisa share a column in it. They even printed the first two chapters of the book to get the reader interested. Chapters one and two were read with no concerns with the subject matter or wording.
The plot in the book starts with brilliant Eric Archer, a junior at Harvard, who has a sister, Cady, who is three years younger than he. Eric and Caty had a strong family bond growing up and she considered Eric to be her protector. Eric was diagnosed with schizophrenia and apparently committed suicide when Cady was a senior in high school. Cady applied and was also accepted at Harvard. Because of Eric’s death shortly before Cady’s enrollment, her parents did not want her to go to Harvard, but the strong-willed Cady got her way.
Eric was known for working with his physics professor and adviser, Prokop, on a secret project that was to culminate in his senior year and it was thought he would win a most prestigious academic prize for his work. This would result in an automatic admittance to graduate school and/or a clincher in any job interview. However, shortly before his death, he found something much more important to investigate and dropped out of his physics project.
A good part of the next section of the book consisted of 17 year old Cady getting to know her roommates, her professors and students, the professors and students who knew Eric, and the rest of the college lifestyle.
As the book advanced, more and more foul words were used. The topper for me was when Cady allowed herself to get into a situation that encouraged sex. This was around page 100. Who knows what would have happened in the next 349 pages!
At the end of a book review I usually ask a few questions to the reader of the review trying to make the rest of the book interesting. However, at this point I turned Barb’s Kindle off and reported to her that I was finished with the book. She was surprised I had read the entire book already.
I advised her page 100 was my last because of the above stated reasons and she gave me an “attaboy”. Therefore, I will never know how the rest of Cady’s time at Harvard was, why she kept hearing voices (was it her conscience?); did Caty have a mental problem also; why Eric dropped out of his prestigious project; what was so much more important than his project or did Eric actually commit suicide? That’s okay with me and I hope it’s okay with you, too! Try another book.
Jeff Hall of Honey Brook contributes to Berks-Mont Newspapers.