In 1969 Katie, a girl from a large, poor, conservative
catholic family in Detroit sets off to college at Eastern Michigan University, and finds herself sharing a room with a more attractive, sexually active, upper class Janie. The action takes place just after seven murders of young, female college students in the area around EMU – an actual real-life series of killings that Whitsitt uses as the backdrop for the story. Police have arrested the supposed killer, but one of the murders was different to the other six, and some are concerned a killer may still be on the loose.
The book uses lots of contrasts between Katie and Janie to remind us of what was going on in a period of social upheavel. The book is full of references to the culture of the 60s: changing beliefs about sexuality, songs like Aquarius by The Fifth Dimension, Karen Carpenter, Catch 22, orange furniture and smoking being considered sexy. It’s hard to imagine the world of race riots in Detroit, when army tanks rolled down the streets of one of America’s largest cities, or when whites and blacks didn’t mix socially, even on a progressive college campus. The
main character does end up in danger, but I won’t give away the ending. The prose is vivid, the writing style is fluid and it’s a good week-end read. Here’s a link: