A Review of Kara Was Here: A Novel by William Conescu

I received this book through Goodreads.com’s First Reads program. The number of pages on their site is listed as 272, but the copy that I received has 292 pages. 302 if you count the Acknowledgements and discussion questions.

Back of the book blurb: “Brad Mitchell’s life is falling apart. Both his marriage and health are in limbo. The woman he thought he would marry, Kara, has died from an overdose. A friend keeps trying to convince him that Kara was actually murdered, And then there’s Kara’s ghost. She keeps visiting.

The book is about the effect that a woman named Kara’s death has on the people in her life. There are three main characters: Brad Mitchell, Margot Cominsky and Gwen. Each of them are working through their own issues in life and then they start seeing or hearing Kara.

Brad retired from acting and is now a successful realtor in North Carolina, where him, Kara and Gwen are from. He’s married with a kid on the way when he finds out that his health is in jeopardy. He starts seeing Kara’s ghost almost immediately after she passes away.

Margot is the owner of an independent baking business, but she’s not exactly happy with her life. She’s pretty lonely, her boyfriend is stationed in Japan and isn’t convinced that Kara died of an overdose. She spends most of the book trying to prove that something else happened.

Gwen is Kara’s eighteen year old little sister. She’ll be going to college in NC, but she’s doing a summer long art program in NYC first. She feels out of place in her family and tries to follow in Kara’s footsteps once she gets to New York. She even hangs out with the guys that Kara was seeing, including her “fiancé” Steve (aka Mullet).

The book flawlessly switches between the three main characters’ points of view. I was never confused about which character was talking. It worked really well to carry the story along and provide decent backstories for everyone.

There’s a lot of lying in this story. Either by straight out lies, white lies or omissions of information. Brad doesn’t tell his wife about his condition; (She just thinks that he needs glasses.) Margot’s boyfriend doesn’t tell her when he’s on missions and Gwen usually has excuses for not calling people back/ not showing up. I think one of the main points the book makes is that honesty is important in relationships. Not just in romantic relationships, but in friendships as well.

Each of the characters finds out that they might now have known Kara as well as they thought they did. Her ghost tries to tell them this too. She appears to Brad and Gwen when they’re sad, nervous, or in a bad situation. Her ghost is a neat character in itself. It’s like a compilation of memories that they see. She’s always smoking a cigarette or drinking.

The novel isn’t really a ghost story or a huge mystery, but it has elements of both. I liked the ending. I’d recommend it to people who like “slice of life” novels or character driven novels.

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Tanie's Reviews

I love reading, listening to music, watching wrestling and spending time with my friends and family. I read mostly Young Adult books and I love paranormal books, especially vampire ones. I am originally from Connecticut, but I live in Maryland now. I have a book buying habit and I'm addicted to the book section of my local thrift shop.

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