What I'm Reading: Bradstreet Gate

A review of Robin Kirman's debut novel, Bradstreet Gate.

I'm a big reader, as you know if you've joined me for Mom's Book Nook, the monthly virtual book club I host with my friend Meghan at Playground Parkbench. I love discovering new books and when I do, I want to share them with you! 

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. See my Disclosure Policy for details.

I recently finished reading Bradstreet Gate by Robin Kirman. This is her debut novel and was just released in July, so I was really excited to get an early copy.

Bradstreet Gate follows the lives of three students at Harvard in the late 1990s. The three friends - Georgia, Charlie, and Alice, find their lives turned upside down when a favorite professor is accused of murdering a fellow student... and his secret relationship with one of the friends is revealed.

From the description I had read, I expected Bradstreet Gate to read like a thriller. While the murder of a student is a central focus of the story, it is not examined in any way that you expect (and unsatisfyingly, it is never solved). Do not expect to read Bradstreet Gate as a traditional thriller or mystery story or you will be disappointed.

What Bradstreet Gate really should be considered is a character study.  The book follows an unconventional narrative form as it jumps from one character's story to another, not quite following a linear timeline. This can be very confusing at times. Once things get going and the characters begin to form, there are some moments of character exploration that really draw you in. I found the book's study of the characters' relationships with their parents to be among the most well written and interesting in the book - Georgia's flighty father who she adores, Alice's childhood trauma in losing her father at a young age, and Charlie's fight to be better than his blue collar roots - all stood out to me.

Unfortunately though, those moments did not add up to a whole novel. The characters were developed as individuals, but their relationships were not examined enough for the plot to form a cohesive narrative. There was so much possibility in the premise of the novel that was never fulfilled, and the ending felt incomplete, with too many loose ends still untied.

If you're a fan of character study then Bradstreet Gate has something to offer, but if you're looking for a more conventional thriller, give it a pass.

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